United Kingdom Centre for Marine Energy Research

Project: Research

Project Details


Marine (or offshore) renewable energy has a large potential to deliver clean, secure and predictable energy. The United Kingdom has some of the largest natural resources (large waves, strong tidal currents and high winds) of any country in the world. The exploitation of these resources is critical to addressing the energy trilemma (of producing secure, cost affordable, low carbon energy). Indeed, it is likely that without marine energy the UK's ambitious 2050 carbon reduction targets cannot be met. However, Marine energy has significant challenges to overcome. Wave, tidal and wind turbines must be installed and operated in remote locations, where the water is deep and the ocean, weather and tides are highly energetic. To provide cost effective electricity, renewable energy devices must be inexpensive to manufacture, simple to install, reliable, easy to service and produce large quantities of energy. Achieving all of this within the hostile marine environment is quite a challenge, however the prize is significant, providing not only clean energy, but significant employment and export opportunities.

The United Kingdom Centre for Marine Renewable Energy (UKCMER) is a virtual centre, funded under RCUK's Energy Programmes SUPERGEN initiative. UKCMER seeks to coordinate research in renewable electricity generation using the power of the waves, tidal currents and floating wind turbines. The UKCMER core comprises of The University of Edinburgh (who coordinate the programme), Cranfield University, Exeter University, Strathclyde University and Swansea University. In addition to conducting a core research programme UKCMER acts as a hub to coordinate the activities of four additional Grand Challenge projects (EP/N021452/1, EP/N021487/1, EP/N020782/1 and EP/N02057X/1) looking at specific challenges for the marine energy sector.

Research in the fourth phase of UKCMER will focus on: methods to enhance the performance of tidal turbines that recognise that arrays of machines are affected by both the interactions of the water flowing passed the devices and the electrical infrastructure which collects the energy generated and sends it to the grid. The development of design tools to assist in the optimal design of wave energy converters, tidal turbines and floating wind turbines that account for the random nature of both the waves and turbulence in the marine environment. Methods to explore the response of wave energy converters, tidal turbines and floating wind turbines to extreme loading events, recognising that such events arise from a combination of steep (rather than large waves) and the state of the device when the waves reach it. Examining how the wakes of tidal turbines deployed in farms interact with each other so that the power production from the farm can be optimised. And finally, how new designs and materials can improve the structural integrity of offshore renewable energy converters. The research programme has been designed to be complementary to the existing grand challenge projects and will make use of early results from these projects.

UKCMER leads the UK's international outreach activities and has developed strong links to programmes in Chile, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the USA which will be further strengthened under this grant. UKCMER staff continue to contribute to standardisation activities of the IEC helping to develop the 62600 series of international standards and contributing to the work of the International Towing Tank Conference (ITTC) and the International Ships and Offshore Structures Congress (ISSC).
Short titleSupergen Marine
Effective start/end date1/12/1631/05/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy


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