Impact Case Study

How do we harness offshore renewable energy?

Helping the UK to save energy by using wind and wave power. Working towards ambitious targets to deliver 15% of energy from renewables by 2020.

The problem

The world needs to save energy and get more of their requirements from renewables. The UK has ambitious targets to deliver 15% of energy from renewables by 2020. As part of achieving this aim, we need to understand how viable proposed offshore structures for wind and wave power are.

The proposed offshore structures for both wind and wave power are likely to be novel floating structures in deep water.

What we did

The Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Flow Analysis (CMMFA), that sits within the Environmental Research centre, specialises in developing in-house advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models and software.

They constructed a detailed, validated, computational model in the form of a so-called numerical wave tank (NWT) that can simulate both laboratory-scale and full-scale devices in realistic wave climates.

This allows us to assess in a measurable and cost-effective way, the implications for the safe deployment and survivability of past, existing and proposed offshore structures for both wind and wave power. These are increasingly likely to be novel floating structures in deep water.

The research also involves assessing the environmental impact of climate change that leads to sea level rise and increased storm activity offshore.

wavepower

What we discovered

This NWT has led to the development of the CMMFA's AMAZON suite of flow codes. These novel developments in numerical techniques have been brought over from past work in aeronautical hydrodynamics. This sharing of knowledge has contributed to the discovery in this discipline.

What the NWT offers is a full set of flow variables e.g. pressure and velocity fields, water surface elevations, forces and body motion response. It means you get a fully detailed flow model that incorporates all the relevant physics above and below the water surface. This tells you about things like the fluids, air and water, aeration as waves break and impact on a structure, wind effects on waves and the way the structure moves.

Huge water turbine generators inside a Hydroelectric power-plant