UK and China collaborate on offshore renewable energy projects

Wednesday, 13 September, 2017

Researchers from the UK and China are set to collaborate on five projects to develop the next generation of offshore renewable energy (ORE) technologies to enable the safe, secure, cheap and efficient provision of clean energy.

The multidisciplinary three-year projects will use environmental science, technology and engineering to tackle key challenges affecting the development of ORE systems — such as offshore wind, wave and tide facilities — and maximise their environmental and socioeconomic benefits. The projects will determine where the best energy resource is available and where would be best to implement ORE technologies, and inform the development of technology so that structures are resilient to extreme events such as typhoons and earthquakes.

In addition, the projects will:

  • showcase the potential of ORE technologies to provide stable power supply for island and coastal communities, particularly in China, but also in UK offshore island communities;
  • improve understanding of resources for ORE systems under different conditions between UK and China, all of which will move both countries closer towards a low carbon economy;
  • help to understand and reduce the risk of extreme events and encourage sustainable development of ORE systems, which could kick-start floating design methods and assess suitability of current standards and methods;
  • help to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the potential power produced, while identifying and informing ORE system build sites. This research could underpin other aspects of ORE development, both engineering and policy.

The UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) are supporting the projects with almost £4 million of funding, which will be distributed from the Newton Fund. The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) is also providing support for all of the projects, which have been funded as part of the Joint UK-China Offshore Renewable Energy program.

“This multidisciplinary program has already delivered invaluable research on reducing energy demand at the city scale, the integration of electric vehicles and grid-scale energy storage,” EPSRC Chief Executive Professor Philip Nelson said. “These new projects bring together some of the leading minds in this field from the UK and China to increase our capacity to generate and distribute affordable, safe, clean energy.”

NERC Chief Executive Professor Duncan Wingham added, “This research will develop the potential of offshore renewable energy technologies, integrating environmental science to provide a better understanding of the energy resources, the sustainable development of ORE systems and where best to locate and deploy these systems to ensure a stable power supply with minimal environmental impact.”

The projects will ultimately promote economic development in China by bringing down the cost of energy, understanding the environmental processes that can lead to climate change, addressing the population welfare issues associated with reliance on fossil fuels.

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