Durham University join partnership to develop the future of renewable energy


A major collaboration between Durham University, the University of Sheffield and the University of Hull, and two global energy companies, Ørsted and Siemens Gamesa, could enhance the future of offshore wind energy.

The £7.7 million partnership, funded by the UKRI Prosperity Partnership programme, aims to support research into real-life issues faced by industrial partners, making offshore wind turbines more efficient, reliable and cheaper. 

These developments will ensure that offshore wind turbines can run more efficiently for longer periods of time.

“The team at Durham have been at the “forefront of the research and innovations behind renewable energy for more than a decade”


During the collaborative project, the team at Durham has developed new methods to monitor the sustainability of wind turbines. This will provide energy companies with the opportunity to predict issues and faults as they develop, enabling them to run more efficiently for prolonged periods of time.

These new improvements can be applied to the world’s current largest offshore windfarm, Hornsea, off the North-East coast. As another gigawatt-scale windfarm in the Northeast is set to begin operation this summer, Durham’s research is aiming to support the future of renewable energy both locally and on a global scale. 

Professor Simon Hogg, who leads the team at Durham, said “At Durham, we’ve been at the forefront of the research and innovations behind renewable energy for more than a decade with our ongoing work through the Durham Energy Institute. Our students have taken on real issues being faced by industry and found practical and viable solutions.”

“The innovations from this latest partnership have resulted in an improved understanding of how energy companies can monitor the long-term health of the turbines”


He added that the research being conducted in this partnership has “resulted in an improved understanding of how energy companies can monitor the long-term health of the turbines.

“All of this can only contribute towards making renewable energy sources more sustainable whilst also helping to drive down the UK’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources in the future.”

The techniques that the Durham team have developed to monitor the health and sustainability of wind turbines include measuring the condition of lubricating oil within the wind turbines, methods for predicting the impact of rain erosion on turbine blades and monitoring structural health through through drones.

A key outcome of the collaboration has been the identification of where the next stages of research should be concentrated to aid the development of more improvements.

This is supported by the Industrial Principal Investigator from Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE), Dr Arwyn Thomas, who said the collaboration “helps to focus the research into areas that are far more relevant, and which will have much more immediate, positive impacts”. 

Further funding for several follow-on projects has already been secured thanks to the excellent collaboration between all the partner institutions.

Image: Martin Horfsall via Creative Commons

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