Researcher in Residence: Pioneering project to propel the UK towards wind sector goals

offshore wind

In a quest to propel the UK towards its ambitious Offshore Wind Sector Deal targets—50GW of offshore wind (including 5GW floating) and a substantial 60% local UK wind turbine content by 2030—a transformative research project led by the University of Strathclyde‘s Maurizio Collu, a distinguished expert in wind energy systems and in collaboration with Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, is set to redefine the landscape of offshore energy engineering. Currently, with only ~13.6GW (including a mere 0.08GW floating) operational and a content rate of 48%, a significant paradigm shift is imperative.

At the heart of this project is a research hypothesis that challenges the status quo. By developing a ‘whole system,’ multidisciplinary design, analysis, and optimization (MDAO) framework, and by applying it to an industrially relevant case study, it will be possible to quantitatively demonstrate that overcoming these techno-economic challenges is the most attractive option despite the risks.

The UK’s Offshore Sector Deal has set an ambitious course for the future, yet the traditional approach to wind turbine design and manufacturing poses substantial barriers. Currently, companies involved in designing the “dry” parts—the rotor, nacelle, and tower—are only integrated with those working on the floating support structure at a very late stage, limiting collaborative innovation and efficiency.

The international research community and industry experts advocate for a “systems engineering” approach, one that considers all components and their interactions from the project’s inception. However, this approach is perceived as too risky by the industry, prompting the need for a transformative solution.

Led by Maurizio Collu, a distinguished expert in wind energy systems from the University of Strathclyde, this Researcher in Residence (RiR) project aims to develop a comprehensive, multidisciplinary framework for the design, analysis, and optimization of offshore wind systems. By applying this framework to an industrially relevant case study, the project seeks to showcase the quantitative benefits of overcoming current challenges.

This project not only aligns with the objectives of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal but also promises to revolutionise the very foundation of offshore wind engineering.

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