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Flexible Funding - Research Projects

We are pleased to announce that the Supergen ORE Hub has awarded almost £1million to ten UK University led consortiums in our first round of Flexible Funding to support ambitious research projects investigating all aspects of offshore renewable energy (ORE).

The Flexible Fund has been established to enable UK researchers to respond to a number of key offshore renewable energy (ORE) engineering challenges, and to support projects areas that complement existing research, fill gaps or add cross-cutting activities to explore the transfer of research findings between sectors within ORE.

Congratulations to all who were successful in this first funding round. A list of the first round of Flexible Funding research projects can be found below.

Details of future Flexible Funding calls will be announced through the Supergen ORE Hub’s Network mailing list, website and Twitter account in the future.


Supergen ORE Hub - First Flexible Funding Call, April 2019 - Research Projects


Chalk, which can behave as a weak rock, can also be de-structured into a soft putty under pile driving or severe cyclic loading. Recent difficulties experienced offshore in chalk have highlighted an urgent need for more accurate and reliable design tools to enable robust and cost-effective foundation design for offshore wind energy developments involving this highly problematic geomaterial. This project will use pre-collected data to develop a novel numerical analysis to capture the behaviour of both individual chalk elements and full-scale offshore piles.


The maintenance and monitoring of Offshore Wind Turbines (OWTs) and Floating Offshore Wind Turbines (FOWTs) present significant challenges. Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) used to inspect them are limited in accessibility and manoeuvrability. This project will build a “Robo Fish” – a biometric Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) capable of continuously and autonomously locating and monitoring structural damage to OWTs or FOWTs. The Robo Fish mimics the movement of an eel, allowing it to greater agility in close proximity to structures and better energy efficiency of movement compared to conventional AUV designs.


Nearly all offshore wind turbines are located in relatively shallow water mounted on fixed bottom support structures. These sites have limited high winds and the turbines are usually highly visible – it therefore makes sense to extend wind turbine systems to deeper water. However, fixed bottom support structures are not feasible in deeper water, so it is necessary to explore floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) systems. FOWT using semi-submersible support structures can experience unacceptably large heave, pitch and roll motions in extreme waves which can affect the performance of the turbine and can cause significant damage. This project will evaluate the potential and effectiveness of applying tuned liquid dampers with anti-heave plates to reduce the motions.


A key problem with predicting tidal turbine lifespan is a lack of data on the unsteady flow conditions at tidal sites. This lack of data causes inaccurate calculations of the lifespan of tidal turbines and drives up the cost of tidal power generation. A prototype probe has been designed which can capture small fluctuations in the flow despite the high hydrostatic pressure when the probe is at depth. This project will develop the probe from a laboratory prototype and prove its operation in marine environments – paving the way for cheap, detailed site surveys, and better predictions of turbine lifespan.

This project will develop a novel methodology to accurately quantify and describe the impact of current on wave measurement buoys. This work enables future measurements to more accurately account for the impact of current, provide a framework for estimating the current from wave buoy measurements, and reprocessing existing buoy datasets to provide historical current estimates. This means that offshore wind, tidal and wave energy technologies can be better designed considering the environmental conditions that they will be exposed to. Furthermore, the opportunity to use common, scaled, characterisation technology in the tank and field will aid the understanding of techniques used to translate site data into the laboratory.


The “standard” approach to modelling wind loads on a floating offshore wind turbine in a hydrodynamic test is via direct physical simulation, using a correctly-scaled working model of the turbine operating in a scaled wind field above the test tank. This poses a number of challenges. Generating a wind field of high controllability and large volume over the tank is difficult and expensive, and scaled model testing can led to manufacturing challenges. An alternative possibility is to utilize “software-in-the-loop” (SIL) in which an active control system drives an actuator in real time to generate system excitation forces in a model test. While it offers a number of benefits, a significant number of challenges remain for this type of testing. This project aims to address the challenges of existing SIL approaches by developing and validating novel approaches to, and practices for, SIL modelling of floating wind turbines in physical model tests.


Renewable energy systems work in variable and uncertain conditions, and this feature would naturally ask for transient overload capabilities of all components involved. Among the main components in an offshore renewable energy system, the power electronic stage is the only one lacking such a capability. This project will research a novel concept to assign, for the first time, a usable overload capability to power semiconductor devices and to use this capability in offshore renewable energy systems, for the purposes of stress reduction and grid support.



As our society becomes ever-more dependent on wind power, it is increasingly important to gain a deeper understanding and more accurate predictability of the wind power availability, the aero-elastic fatigue loads on the wind turbine blades/drive train, and the associated issues of turbine control. The Sandia method proposes to numerically simulate the instantaneous three-dimensional wind field impacting on a wind turbine based solely on information from the frequency spectrum of the incoming wind (i.e. PSD) and its two-point velocity correlations in space across the turbine diameter. This method of prediction is very appealing for industrial applications as numerical predictions agree well with field measurements. This project will investigate whether the Sandia method can reliably be applied to flow with different stability properties, and thereby allow both better initial turbine design and better live prediction of loads and fatigue in service.

Satellite-based measurement has long been identified as having a potential role in enabling cost reduction of marine renewables, but applications have been largely limited to wind resource assessment and wake modelling. This project aims to take satellite data usage in offshore renewable energy (ORE) to the next level by better linking satellite data, models driven by such data, decisions driven by the model outputs, and quantifying this impact on a Levelised Cost of Energy. By mapping linkages between key decision horizons in ORE life cycle to satellite capability will produce a visual map of where satellite data can best impact ORE project decisions. This map will direct the data analysis activities towards the project decisions having the best potential for improvement and quantify any reductions in uncertainty. These improvements will then be captured and monetised in a range of cost models.


The wind energy industry is the fastest growing global consumer of glass fibre-reinforced plastic (GRP) composites. In parallel with this growth is rising GRP waste from end-of-life wind turbine blades (WTB). Unlike other wind turbine components modern lightweight composite WTB are not designed for recyclability. Consequently, developing commercially viable solutions for WTB recycling and reuse is rapidly becoming one of the most important challenges facing global wind industry. This project aims to develop a cost-effective recycling process with commercial competitiveness for large scale recycling of wind turbine blades through reducing the energy demand in the recycling process, improving the quality of reclaimed fibres, and improving their manufacturability.