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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

Prosperity Partnerships: A New Partnership in Offshore Wind

Project Partners:

University of Sheffield (Lead)

Durham University (Prof Simon Hogg, Dr Pete Matthews, Dr Christopher Crabtree, Prof Toby Breckon, Dr Grant Ingram, Prof Charles Augarde, Dr Will Coombs)

Hull University

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy

Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy)


The five-year programme will address current and future challenges in order to reduce the cost of electricity from offshore wind.

Engineering experts from Durham University will work on projects aimed at reducing the operation and maintenance costs of offshore wind turbines to ensure the efficient running of wind farms and on projects connected to anchoring of offshore structures. Technologies being developed at Durham will include new methods and sensors for earlier detection of emerging faults before the turbines need to go off line, better turbine blade and tower inspections techniques, improved analytical models for seabed soils and better designs for seabed anchors. All of these developments are aligned with the overarching aim of the collaborative project which is to reduce the costs of offshore wind energy generation.

The project will research the low Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) underpinning technology for large scale wind generator manufacture, examining the power train, foundations, blade design and inspection methodologies. The findings of the research project are relevant to academics working in a number of fields directly connected to wind energy, converter control, power electronic converters, blade design, foundation design, grid-interfacing and power systems. Furthermore, the underlying technologies developed within this programme will impact on research in a number of other market sectors from aerospace through automotive to medical. For instance, the modular generator could be applied to fault tolerant machines for more electric aircraft and ship propulsion, and the structural health monitoring techniques can be applied to earthquake zones and civil engineering structures such as bridges.

The research outputs are designed to align with the technology research and development roadmaps of Siemens and Ørsted and this allows for maximum impact from the funded research, and data made available through the project from the industrial partners will facilitate more industrially targeted research to be carried out within the academic environment, feeding through to the academic community in general through learned society publications.

Knowledge developed in the project will impact teaching at the collaborating universities directly at undergraduate and postgraduate level by seeding many ideas for projects and case studies.
The programme ultimately enables more affordable and efficient technology to facilitate growth of offshore wind power to meet energy needs worldwide. It provides growth in the UK OSW supply chain, meeting the national needs of growth in the low-carbon economy, achieving UK CO2 emissions-targets and ensuring resilient low-cost energy.

Key beneficiaries include:

  1. The UK OSW industry will obtain solutions to key issues impeding the further development of OSW technology – this will allow participants to forge ahead in a rapidly growing, high-demand global sector, developing new products and improving the efficiency and durability of existing technology. They will also benefit from an nflux of specialists with a skill set tailored to their specific needs.
  2. The British Government and the environment will benefit from resilient and affordable solutions to meet their international obligations for reductions in CO2 emissions.
  3. The public will benefit from lower prices for sustainable electricity.
  4. Academic research will benefit from the dissemination of this internationally leading low-TRL research in high-impact journals and conferences.
  5. Young people and under-represented groups will be attracted into engineering and innovation.

The bid to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding was developed as one part of ongoing interactions between the partners who have been brought together through the project Aura initiative which is led by the University of Hull. Project Aura combines academic expertise with industry know-how, bringing together multi-disciplinary excellence, knowledge and innovation for the offshore wind industry.

Ørsted has a long-standing partnership with Durham University that includes supporting a Chair in Renewable Energy position at Durham Energy Institute, PhD research collaborations and endowing MSc scholarships for Durham University students each year since 2011.

Find out more about the New Partnership in Offshore Wind project.

Launch of A New Partnership in Offshore Wind