£1.6m wind energy centre to develop technologies of tomorrow

Paul Boughton

A new centre to develop and test offshore wind condition monitoring technologies - and help Scotland meet its renewable energy targets - is to be opened at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

The Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring, a partnership between the University, SgurrEnergy and David Brown Gear Systems (David Brown), will develop innovative techniques to improve the availability of offshore wind farms and reduce the need for expensive reactive, offshore maintenance.

Researchers at the Centre will initially focus on technology to monitor the condition of offshore gearboxes, including advanced remote sensors to detect how they are being affected by extreme wind conditions.

The new partnership will work alongside the University’s Wind Energy Systems Doctoral Training Centre, 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.

Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University, said: “With its vast natural resources and engineering expertise, the UK, and Scotland in particular, are ideally positioned to be world-leading in renewable energy. However, to achieve our ambitious energy targets and realise the potential of offshore wind, it is critical that we bring together engineering expertise through research collaboration between academia, industry and the public sector.

“The Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring will play an important role in removing barriers to large scale offshore wind deployment by developing technology that is cost effective, robust and maximises the availability of offshore renewables installations.”  

The news comes just weeks after the University unveiled plans for the Technology and Innovation Centre at Strathclyde (TIC) – a world-leading research hub for academics and industry in the centre of Glasgow.

The Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring will work in parallel with TIC and 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.

Ian Irvine, Technical Director at SgurrEnergy, said: “Our extensive involvement in offshore wind farm projects has highlighted the huge potential and also significant challenges that face the industry. Offshore wind projects can be difficult working environments and consequently costs can be extremely high. Quality information on wind farm operational performance is essential to ensure that optimum decisions can be made. We are delighed to be part of this exciting partnership which will allow industry experts to work together to develop these supporting  information systems.”

Ian Farquhar, Managing Director – Wind at David Brown, said: “At David Brown we have a clear growth strategy, developed around expanding in key global markets including renewable industries such as wind and solar. We have been using our vast knowledge and experience to design innovative gearboxes for the offshore wind market that address the challenges of reliability, efficiency and lifecycle costs. Collaborations across research and technology are central to our work and only as a team can we bring forward such innovation as quickly as is necessary. This collaborative research programme will enable David Brown to develop leading edge condition monitoring technologies and is a great opportunity to bring the very best thinking to the wind industry.”

The Centre is being funded by SgurrEnergy, David Brown and the University’s Faculty of Engineering, and is expected to set new standards in offshore wind technology condition monitoring design. It will draw on expertise from these internationally renowned companies and the University’s Faculty of Engineering, which is home to research expertise unrivalled in the UK.

Strathclyde academics are also working closely with industrial partners to develop larger scale, more effective wind turbines for on and off-shore deployment, and to enable greater exploitation of our wind energy resources.

For more information, visit www.strath.ac.uk

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