UK and Chinese Researchers Form Floating Offshore Wind Partnership

Researchers from the University of Exeter will collaborate with counterparts in China on a new project to develop the next generation of floating offshore wind technology.

The project, co-lead by Professor Bing Chen from Dalian University of Technology in China, has received a grant of more than GBP 800,000 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and RMB 2.94 million from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) as part of the Joint UK-China Offshore Renewable Energy programme.

The project, entitled Resilient Integrated-Coupled FOW platform design methodology (ResIn) – aims to enhance the design and development of floating offshore renewables, in particular offshore floating wind as commercially viable electricity infrastructure through a risk based approach allowing to build resilience against extreme events.

“China has stepped up the installation of solar energy and onshore wind capacity; however the industrialised centres along the coast do not have significant renewable energy resources available, apart from one: Offshore wind energy,” Professor Bing Chen said.

”The China Sea is potentially the largest offshore energy market in the world with up to 500GW capacity, a third of which is only be exploitable with floating installations.”

In China specifically, the energy demand is at its highest along the industrialised and densely populated coastal regions. However, existing solar, wind and hydro resources are primarily located in the North West and South West of the vast country, and electricity transmission via the grid is already constrained.

The Chinese government therefore has identified offshore wind energy as one of the primary energy resources, with a potential to offset as many as 340 coal-fired power stations each year.

With offshore wind energy generation currently more expensive than fossil fuels in China, and a high risk of typhoon damage, the project will also look at ways of cheapening production of renewable wind energy, as well as making the supply more secure.

“The costs of subsidies for new offshore wind farms have reached a record low, halving in less than three years,” Professor Lars Johanning, the University of Exter, said.

”Latest news identified that offshore wind is becoming cheaper than nuclear with two companies identifying a strike price of £57.50 per megawatt hour. Building on this achievements the ResIn project focus on secure and affordable energy generation from offshore floating wind in deeper water locations around the globe.”

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