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New research centre to support the UK’s booming offshore wind industry

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Funding has been granted for a new centre to develop and demonstrate offshore and onshore wind turbine asset management to help Scotland meet its ambitious renewable energy targets.

The facility is to be opened at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

The Centre for Intelligent Asset Management (CIAM) is a partnership between the University and SgurrEnergy, a renewable energy consultancy, part of Wood Group, and will develop innovative techniques to improve the availability of offshore wind farms and reduce the need for expensive reactive offshore maintenance.

The news comes just months after the University, SgurrEnergy and David Brown Gear Systems unveiled plans for a new £2.35M Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring (CACM) – a leading research hub for academics and industry, developing new approaches in wind technology condition monitoring design in the centre of Glasgow.

The new partnership will work alongside the CACM and the University’s Wind Energy Systems Centre Doctoral Training (CDT), which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to provide high level training to PhD students to help address the skill shortage in the renewables sector.

Working in parallel with these important bodies, the CIAM will support the UK’s rapidly growing offshore wind industry. Estimates suggest by 2050, offshore wind could be worth £65 billion to the UK and could support hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Today’s announcement reflects Scotland’s position as a global leader in energy research and technology, and is the latest chapter in Glasgow’s renewables success story. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with SgurrEnergy to accelerate innovation and support the UK’s ambitions as a low carbon economy.”

The multi-disciplinary partnership involves academics from the University’s departments of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Management Science and Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management. It comes just days after Business Secretary Vince Cable announced Glasgow will host the headquarters of the £50m UK-wide Catapult Centre for Offshore Renewable Energy.

Dr Francis Quail, Director of CACM and CIAM – University of Strathclyde, said: “The new Centre for Intelligent Asset Management will align the significant power of Wood Group’s offshore engineering experience and the offshore renewables expertise of SgurrEnergy with the UK’s centre of excellence for wind energy research. The potential to create the most advanced tools for offshore wind turbine asset management within this framework represents an exciting and strategic partnership that aims to reduce the cost of energy from offshore wind specifically and all wind generally by reducing maintenance costs and increasing wind turbine availability.”

Ian Irvine, Technical Director at SgurrEnergy, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this significant project and we look forward to developing this partnership for the benefit of the UK wind industry as a whole, recognising the worldwide potential for its application to wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies”.

The UK has set world leading targets for the installation of offshore wind power generation capacity. The deployment of large scale arrays of offshore wind turbines, particularly for the UK Round 3 sites, is extremely challenging. Critical to meeting government targets for 2020, the UK wind industry is planning very large offshore wind farms, some at considerable distance from shore and in deeper water. Round 3 sites are in the range from 13km to 195km from shore compared with 12km for the most distant existing offshore wind farms. There is an urgent need to ensure that offshore wind turbine availability is underpinned by appropriate approaches to operations and maintenance supported by intelligent asset management.

Glasgow is aiming to become a centre of excellence in offshore wind through development of the ITREZ (International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone).

A key initiative of this engagement between Industry and Academia is planned through the University of Strathclyde’s Technology Innovation Centre (TIC).

Source: Spurr Energy

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