UK sets electrical infrastructure for offshore renewables power-up

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has appointed two UK universities to join its £3.1 million electrical engineering research hub that will seek to make the UK electrical system fit for offshore renewables.

The Universities of Strathclyde and Manchester will join ORE Catapult to form the Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub (EIRH) tasked with tackling the challenge of making the UK’s electrical infrastructure systems future-proof to meet the needs of the growing offshore wind, wave and tidal industries.

With a five-year investment of around £700,000 from ORE Catapult, and £2.4 million match funding from its university partners, the hub will address a selection of key research topics and themes.

The topics range from component reliability and availability, over system and sub-system optimization, to smart energy of the future – including energy storage solutions.

Over its five-year lifespan, the EIRH will be supported by at least 10 PhD students, three post-doctoral researchers and experts from both the university partners and ORE Catapult’s electrical infrastructure research team, the Catapult said.

Both the universities and ORE Catapult have access to test and demonstration facilities that will enable novel methods and technologies to be accelerated along the technology readiness scale from concept to validation.

Professor Keith Bell and Professor Ian Cotton, from the Universities of Strathclyde and Manchester respectively, will act as Scientific Directors for the EIRH, and work alongside the ORE Catapult’s Head of Strategic Research, Paul McKeever, to deliver a program of research which is led by key and emerging industrial challenges.

Paul McKeever, ORE Catapult’s Head of Strategic Research, said: “The UK’s wind, wave and tidal industries are developing at pace and the offshore wind industry has announced its most ambitious plans to date that would see 30GW of installed capacity by 2030.

“One of the biggest challenges associated with these plans will be to address how we best convert, transmit and store energy from our offshore renewable assets in an effective and reliable manner.”

The EIRH follows on from the development of ORE Catapult’s inaugural research collaboration with the University of Bristol, focused on wind turbine blades (WBRH).

In its first year of operation, the WBRH has secured two PhD students, an EngD and recruited both a full time Post-Doctoral Research Assistant (PDRA) and lecturer to expand the Hub’s wind turbine blades research portfolio, according to ORE Catapult.

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