Offshore Renewable Energy
Floating solar energy – a contributor to decarbonisation:
The research planned to both advance the floating solar industry internationally but also evaluate its application to Northern Ireland as part of de-carbonising its energy requirements. Moreover, it supports potential business opportunities in Ireland and the UK. The project has contributed to the development of floating solar by field testing, laboratory experiments and the development of numerical codes to account for simultaneous action of wave and wind loading. To further develop these structures in coastal areas, modelling the dynamic response of floating solar PV arrays in nearshore locations are carried out and compared versus the experiments. The primary emphasis is on total system modelling to gain a better understanding of environmental loading in coastal and nearshore locations which will contribute to bespoke design codes for this industry.
Numerical assessment of offshore wind turbines:
This research aims to provide a simplified and accurate numerical code and proper methodology which can investigate the fatigue of offshore wind turbines. The stochastic nature of wind and wave behaviour causes non-linear loads that can excite the Eigenfrequencies of the offshore wind turbines (OWTs) components such as blades, towers and the substructure. The structural response of floating OWTs may be underestimated/overestimated due to assumptions in linear theories; consequently, the correct response conditions cannot be captured. The nonlinear loads generated by wind and wave action over the lifespan of floating OWTs can affect significantly the fatigue life of the structure; due to their nature, the stochastic or random variables change over time. So, one of the challenges is defining proper design load conditions (DLS) and running the simulations for an adequate time window. In this project, advanced methods will be used to capture nonlinearities involved and hence better prediction methods for fatigue life of offshore wind turbines will be documented.
Active members of the team:
- Trevor Whittaker
- Dallán Friel
- Abdolmajid Moghtadaei
Impact of Research
The floating solar energy project has great economic impacts by accelerating the development of the offshore renewable energy industry with vast export potential. By positioning local companies at the engineering forefront of the technology, hundreds of skilled jobs could be created, both direct and indirect via supply chain and support services. The generation of local employment has a compounding effect both in terms of social and economic returns.
The offshore wind project has a clear impact on the industry by reducing the Levelized cost of energy (LCOE) through better understanding the load effects and hence improved design. In particular, this has an impact on the further development of offshore wind in deeper water zones and deploying ultra-large floating wind turbines. As the floating offshore wind is likely to represent the best option for Northern Ireland due to the geology of the seabed, the project has an impact on the offshore renewable energy market in the NI as well as in Ireland and the UK where deep-water zones with good wind resources are available.
Major grants and funding
Two fully-funded PhD projects (Each PhD project got funding of £80K)
The Bryden Centre is a €9.4 million cross-border, renewable energy research centre funded by the EU under the Interreg VA programme.
Floating Solar Energy – a contributor to decarbonisation
Grant of £400k [£300k in-cash and £100k in-kind] for 30 months’ research project
Recent papers published by the Research group:
“Floating solar: Beyond the state of the art technology”
Karimirad, M., Rosa-Clot, M., Armstrong, A. & Whittaker, T., 19 Feb 2021, In: Solar Energy.
“Assessment and Nonlinear Modelling of Wave, Tidal and Wind Energy Converters and Turbines”
Karimirad, M. & Collu, M., 05 Sep 2020, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).
“Hydrodynamic investigation of a large monopile for offshore wind applications: numerical and experimental approaches”
Moghtadaei, A., Karimirad, M., Young, C. & Whittaker, T., 12 Oct 2020, 4th International Conference on Renewable Energies Offshore: Proceedings. 12 p.
“Hydrodynamic investigation of design parameters for a cylindrical type floating solar system”
Friel, D., Karimirad, M., Whittaker, T. & Doran, W. J., 12 Oct 2020, Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Renewable Energies Offshore (RENEW 2020, 12 - 15 October 2020, Lisbon, Portugal). Taylor & Francis
“A review of floating photovoltaic design concepts and installed variations”
Friel, D., Karimirad, M., Whittaker, T., Doran, W. J. & Howlin, E., 18 Oct 2019, 4th International Conference on Offshore Renewable Energy. CORE2019 proceedings, Glasgow: ASRANet Ltd, UK, 30 Aug 2019. ASRANet Ltd
“Sensitivity Analysis of A Bottom Fixed Offshore Wind Turbine Using The Environmental Contour Method”
Barreto, D., Moghtadaei, A., Karimirad, M. & Ortega, A., 11 Nov 2019, Proceedings of the ASME 2019 38th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering OMAE2019 June 9-14, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland: Structures, Safety, and Reliability. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Vol. 3.
The project includes a collaborative research team from Queen's University and the following organisations:
SolarMarine Energy Ltd (SME)
Wood Group plc
Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions
Brook Hall Estate,
Culmore Road, Londonderry, BT48 8JE
Lombard Street, Belfast BTIIRD
Larne, C. Antrim, N Ireland, BT40 2SF
Sustainable Development Goals
Reduced Levelized cost of offshore renewable energy
The improved structural integrity by knowing the dynamic responses of offshore energy systems results in reduced Levelized cost of energy produced offshore.
Decarbonisation by enhancing the design of floating solar
Floating solar as an emerging technology could help decarbonisation to a large extent together with offshore wind.
Better numerical codes verified, calibrated and validated against field and laboratory testing
Advanced numerical codes could predict the behaviour of offshore renewable energy structures subjected to marine environments including wave, wind, current. The field and laboratory testing are used to validate the developed codes.
Sustainable design of floating wind turbines by using optimised structures
The optimised floating structures accounting for different loading and conditions help sustainable development by having improved design.