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Renewable energy industry to experience an 'innovation explosion' claims research centre

28/02/2018
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The renewable energy industry will experience an ‘innovation explosion’ with the emergence of turbine-servicing robots, energy-generating parachute kites and 40-rotor turbines, according to researchers at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult centre.

These changes could be expected within the next 12 years, with pioneering designs and energy storage technology meaning a third of the UK’s electricity demand could be met by offshore wind.

These predictions are based on the work of ORE Catapult’s research team which is examining how the offshore wind farms of 2030, 2040 and 2050 will differ from today.
ORE Catapult's research team is examining how the offshore wind farms of 2030, 2040 and 2050 will differ from today.
(Image via ORE Catapult- click to enlarge).

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research and Innovation Director at ORE Catapult has outlined the basis for the projection made by the centre:

“Our projection is based on research taking place in the UK right now- and importantly, gaining traction across the world as exciting new approaches to generating clean, abundant energy from offshore wind start to emerge.”

“This is a very exciting time for the offshore wind industry. In line with the UK Government’s Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies, the industry is currently working with Government to agree a transformational Sector Deal to enable additional capacity to deliver affordable electricity, grow innovative UK businesses and create UK jobs.”

“Technical capability has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and if we look back 12 years to 2006, very few people would have foreseen how far we’ve come with turbine technology and storage, for example.”

“Whatever the future holds, the work taking place right here in the UK will have a pivotal impact not just on how we generate electricity, but on how we view offshore renewables.”

Some of the more eye-catching developments that ORE Catapult has predicted the offshore wind industry could experience in the next two to three decades follow.
The changes could be expected in 12 years and result in the offshore wind industry meeting a third of the UK's electricity demand.
(Image via ORE Catapult).

Robots & Drones

The use of robots and drones, with automated motherships carrying armies of droids to hazardous offshore locations, where they will carry out maintenance and basic repairs cheaper than ever before.

Energy storage

Issues with intermittency will diminish, with energy storage technology maturing within 12 years to become a key part of the UK’s energy mix.

Floating wind farms

Floating wind farms will become the norm, with significantly larger turbines generating over 15MW of energy, compared to the 7MW drivetrains today.

Kite-driven wind power

By 2040, turbines will be accompanied by a new type of technology. There will be extensive roll out of a floating kite power generator, such as that being developed by KPS (Kite Power Systems Ltd) in Glasgow, which uses a wing as a kite to harness power in a wider swept area than turbines can. Because the kites are lightweight, the systems use less material than conventional wind technology so produce energy at a lower cost. “KPS is currently developing a 500kW product that will be on the market in the early 2020s,” says Simon Heyes, KPS CEO. “Our vision has always been that this technology will have a significant impact on global deepwater wind at utility scale.”

New turbine designs

Turbines will take on a new look, with designs moving from the single-rotor designs we see today to arrays of multiple rotors on a single structure, drastically reducing installation and maintenance costs- as well as generating up to 20MW using small 500kW turbines. Single-rotor designs will also continue to grow, with 200m blades potentially becoming the norm.

Improved generators

Turbines will benefit from even cheaper generators. Expensive rare-earth magnets will be replaced by cheap, abundantly available ferrite magnets.

Vertical axis turbines

Vertical axis turbines, which are still in their infancy, will start to address the challenges current designs pose in weight, with larger traditional blades becoming less feasible on a tower structure. These vertical axis blades will have numerous other benefits, such as being able to generate power no matter which direction the wind is blowing in.
The 'innovation explosion' will likely change the composition of the renewable industry jobs market and will increase demand for electronic / digital focused skill sets.
(Image via ORE Catapult).

A changing renewable industry job market

What impact this ‘innovation explosion’ will have upon the renewable industry jobs market remains to be seen, however it’s likely that the composition of the workforce will increasingly lean towards those workers that possess digital / electronic engineering focused skillsets.

Renewable industry jobs

If you’re looking for your next job in the global renewables industry, register with Fircroft and explore our vacancies today.
Recent Comments
i have a Personal work in R & D design of wind turbines and waves But it is not a profitable source of money ... but in my opinion it is a source of profit from the scientific and intellectual side. Renewable energies are the bright future of humanity and its only refuge.
djamila allouache, 10 April 2018
i have a Personal work in R & D design of wind turbines and waves But it is not a profitable source of money ... but in my opinion it is a source of profit from the scientific and intellectual side. Renewable energies are the bright future of humanity and its only refuge.
djamila allouache, 10 April 2018
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Renewable energy industry to experience an 'innovation explosion' claims research centre - Time to read 4 min
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