Offshore renewables

The development of offshore renewable energy systems is gathering pace with wind, tidal and wave energy systems all being deployed.

Wind energy is now a reasonably mature technology with over 3.5GW of capacity deployed. Prime locations for tidal stream turbines could provide a predictable renewable energy source at an average power of about 2GW while estimates for the UK wave energy capacity stand at around 10GW.

Research into offshore renewables focuses on the optimisation of offshore structure design that ensures systems can withstand the extreme loadings that can be seen by structures in an offshore environment. Another key strand of the research concerns understanding the fluid dynamics that influence energy yield and loading of devices deployed in arrays. Energy yield is of crucial importance for investors assessing project viability and to accurately assess environmental changes due to energy extraction. Accurate prediction of extreme loads enables design certification and will enable development of lower cost designs.

System performance of offshore assets is vital given the issues that can be faced when trying to maintain these. A range of work across the University is developing models and measurement techniques that can identify a range of faults seen in renewable energy systems with a particular focus on the generator / power electronic converters that are common to all forms of generation.

The connection to the onshore electricity grid is another area of major activity. Offshore HVDC networks are being deployed and research examines new converter topologies and converter station arrangements, associated control and protection schemes, their dynamic characteristics and their ability to satisfy the onshore grid code requirements.

Project highlights

Step-WEC

Professor Peter Stansby at Manchester has patented a wave energy conversion system with the potential to make wave power commercially viable.

Step-WEC project highlight

SUPERGEN Wind Hub

Researchers in the SUPERGEN Wind Hub develop models to tell network operators how to control energy from large scale wind farms.

SUPERGEN Wind Hub project highlight

X-MED, ReDAPT and PerAWaT

Advanced computer models developed by researchers at The University of Manchester provide confidence in turbine design methods and support increased investment in tidal stream power.

Tidal turbines project highlight

▲ Up to the top