The Supergen Programme

The Supergen programme was set up in 2001 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to deliver sustained and coordinated research on Sustainable PowER GENeration and supply. The programme focused on several key research areas, including bioenergy; energy networks; energy storage; fuel cells; hydrogen and other vectors; marine, wave and tidal; solar technology; and wind power.

For phase four of the programme, the Supergen Wind and Supergen Marine Hubs were combined into one Offshore Renewable Energy Hub, following consultation with the wider research community and EPSRC. The Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Hub builds on the work of the former Hubs, and looks at synergies between offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies as well as building on current research in each area.

Building the Supergen ORE Hub

In 2017 Professor Deborah Greaves OBE from the University of Plymouth was selected by the Supergen Leaders Call to lead the new Supergen ORE Hub. Professor Greaves undertook a six-month engagement project to build a research consortium, plan a community led programme of research and prepare the full application for the second stage of the programme.

Documentation from the series of workshops and engagement events can be found on the University of Plymouth website.

Establishing the Supergen ORE Hub

The Supergen ORE Hub was established in July 2018 with £5million of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It was subsequently awarded a further £4million in June 2019. The Supergen ORE Hub provides research leadership to connect stakeholders, inspire innovation and maximise societal value in offshore renewable energy.

The University of Plymouth leads the Supergen ORE Hub, with Co-Directors from the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Exeter, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Southampton, Strathclyde, and Warwick.

A Research Alignment Group was established to provide independent, objective, impartial advice and strategic guidance on the direction of Supergen ORE Hub research. In addition, an Industrial Advisory Board was created to provide high-level guidance to the Management Board of the Hub, with a focus on the overall mix of industrial sector representation and potential for cross-sector research synergies.

Our people

Aspirational offshore systems

To provide a focus for our research we have established three aspiration ORE systems as beacons for step-change, and provide a benchmark against which research progression can be measured. These three aspirations systems are:

  • A large-scale floating future

    A multi-GW floating ORE farm, unlocking ORE beyond the water depths currently targeted, and creating a step-change in farm-scale via innovative new engineering systems.

  • Scaled-up and safe exploitation of tidal streams

    A step-change in scale for tidal stream systems, moving the industry from prototype proving to systems designed for operation in commercial arrays with high confidence in the prediction of performance and ecological acceptability.

  • Farm-scale wave energy

    A wave energy ORE sector in which the scaling benefits from single to multiple devices are realised, creating the step change in the viability of this technology that is required to secure ongoing investment.

Work areas

The Hub has five core research areas which focus on different aspects of offshore renewable energy. These Work Packages (WP) address the following areas:

  • Work Package 1: Define the characteristics of aspirational ORE deployment scenarios required to meet changing demand for the period from 2025 to 2050 with associated benefits, risks and research priorities.
  • Work Package 2: Establish a set of site and condition characteristics for use, by the hub and the wider research community, as benchmarks to evaluate options for the array scale deployment of ORE technologies.
  • Work Package 3: Develop and validate models to support the confident prediction of ORE system performance, operation and environmental and societal impact.
  • Work Package 4: Develop and validate methods and tools needed for the design and evaluation of future ORE technologies enabling cost, risk and environmental impact reduction.
  • Work Package 5: Assess the potential of very large ORE structures, including floating, and address key technical challenges to the design, deployment and operation of such structures.

You can read more about each work package in detail in this downloadable PDF, or watch video updates from our Co-Directors from our 2019 Annual Assembly.

Research not covered through our core research Work Packages is supported through our Flexible Funding awards, allowing UK researchers to respond to wider research challenges in the ORE sector. Flexible Funding awards are based upon our Research Landscape, an interactive website tool, setting out the research themes and challenges within ORE as identified by stakeholders within the ORE industry and research community.

Supergen ORE Hub Core Partners