University of Plymouth and ORE Catapult forge partnership

Two of the UK’s leading organisations team up to explore development of offshore renewables products and services

The University of Plymouth and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult have agreed to establish a new Collaborative Offshore Renewable Energy Subsea Systems (COSS) research accelerator.

Hosted within the University’s Marine Building, the COSS will enhance the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore renewables by tackling some of the key engineering challenges to accelerating the roll-out of new technologies.

This supports the UK Government’s expanded ambition to deploy up to 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 (with up to 5GW provided by floating offshore wind) – more than enough to power every home in the UK – and its commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

The new facility will be focused around the hydrodynamics of floating offshore structures, offshore engineering and control systems. It will comprise a suite of advanced engineering facilities for use by academic researchers, industry and businesses working in collaboration with the University and ORE Catapult staff.

This will include a technology development laboratory, test equipment and a virtual reality suite that can be used to study the hydrodynamic and environmental effects across anchors, foundations, moorings and platforms to optimise designs and reduce future project risk and costs.

It will be used to test how innovative wave, tidal and floating offshore wind platforms respond to ocean conditions, and build on work to study and develop autonomous marine systems that can carry out the inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore systems.

A complimentary COSS PhD sponsorship scheme will offer industry the opportunity to develop deep technical understanding of offshore engineering challenges and resolve these through collaborative research.

The ultimate aim is to enhance the resilience of structures and reduce the cost of operations, increasing the competitiveness of offshore renewables compared with other energy sources.

These laboratory facilities will be augmented by access to test rigs located across the South West, the real seas trials site Smart Sound Plymouth, and include access to national test facilities operated by ORE Catapult across the UK.

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, said through recent announcements, the government has made it clear that offshore renewables should be one of the main providers of UK energy in the coming decades.

"For that to become a reality, there are a number of engineering challenges that need to be overcome to make the technology fully effective in terms of performance and cost. This collaboration will build on the common research and innovation interests that exist between the University and the ORE Catapult to help meet those challenges," she said.

ORE Catapult’s CEO, Andrew Jamieson, added offshore renewable energy will be the backbone of the UK’s future energy supply as evidenced by the new deployment targets set by the UK Government.

"Whilst there are undoubtedly challenges to accelerating deployment, there are also huge opportunities for UK innovation to come to the fore and drive the development of a strong, robust UK supply chain," he said. 

"COSS enables ORE Catapult to further strengthen its collaborative partnership with the University of Plymouth and, working together with industry, we’ll be able to accelerate technology research and innovation. Ultimately, this will create UK economic benefit, high-value, sustainable jobs and greater energy security from a stronger and more sustainable domestic energy supply, whilst also helping to achieve Net Zero.”

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