SuperGen Phase Three Monograph


Title: SuperGen Phase Three Monograph
Publication Date:
November 01, 2016
Pages: 178
Technology Type:

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SuperGen Marine Energy Research (2016). SuperGen Phase Three Monograph. Report by University of Edinburgh. pp 178.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Sustainable Power Generation and Supply (Supergen) programme is the flagship research initiative established in 2003 to establish a platform for the development of new and improved devices, processes, facilities and know-how for sustainable power generation and supply and with the aim of increasing coherence and collaboration across the energy research landscape.


1.1 Phases 1 and 2


Supergen Marine Phase 1 (October 2003 – September 2007) brought together research staff from the Universities of Edinburgh, Robert Gordon, Lancaster, Heriot -Watt and Strathclyde. The research aimed to:

  1. Increase knowledge and understanding of the extraction of energy from the sea;
  2. Reduce risk and uncertainty for stakeholders in the development and deployment of technology;
  3. Enable progression of marine technology and energy into true positions in future energy portfolios.

Thirteen research work packages (WPs) were undertaken:

  • WP1 Appraisal of Energy Resource & Converters: Environmental Interaction;
  • WP2 Development of Methodologies for Device Evaluation and Optimisation;
  • WP3 Engineering Guidance;
  • WP4 Offshore Energy Conversion and Power Conditioning;
  • WP5 Chemical Conversion and Storage;
  • WP6 Network Interaction of Marine Energy;
  • WP7 Lifetime Economics;
  • WP8 Moorings and Foundations;
  • WP9 Novel Control Systems for Marine Energy Converters;
  • WP10 Full -scale Field Validation;
  • WP11 Assessment of Testing Procedures for Tidal Current Devices;
  • WP12 Economic, Environmental and Social Impact of New Marine Technologies;
  • WP13 Dissemination and Outreach.

Supergen Marine Phase 2 (October 2007 – September 2011) brought together research staff from the core Universities of Edinburgh, Queen’s Belfast, Heriot-Watt, Lancaster and Strathclyde. The consortium included affiliate Universities of Durham, Exeter, Highlands and Islands, Manchester, Robert Gordon and Southampton. They delivered generic research in 12 work streams (WSs) with the following objectives:

  1. Increase knowledge and understanding of device -sea interactions of energy converters from model-scale in the laboratory to full-size in the open sea, subjected to waves and currents.
  2. Build human and physical capacity to carry out research and development to address remaining and new challenges as the expanding sector works towards the targets set.
  3. Internationalise its articulation, activities, perception and influence.

Twelve research work streams (WSs) were undertaken:

  • WS1 Numerical and physical convergence;
  • WS2 Optimisation of collector form and response;
  • WS3 Combined wave and tidal effects;
  • WS4 Arrays, wakes and near field effects;
  • WS5 Power take-off and conditioning;
  • WS6 Moorings and positioning;
  • WS7 Advanced control and network integration;
  • WS8 Reliability;
  • WS9 Economic analysis of variability and penetration;
  • WS10 Ecological Consequences of Tidal & Wave Energy Conversion;
  • WS11 Training and Development;
  • WS12 Dissemination, Engagement and International Articulation.

Through their Doctoral Training Programmes, Phase s 1& 2 trained over 40 PhD students. The outcomes and publications of this work are recorded in the Phase s 1 and 2 monograph s, copies of which are available at the Supergen Marine website:


1.2 Phase 3


Phase 3 commenced in October 2011, funded by EPSRC under award EP/I027912/1 bringing together staff from the core Universities of Edinburgh, Queen’s Belfast, Strathclyde and Exeter. The consortium included associate Universities of Plymouth, Heriot-Watt, Lancaster, Manchester, Swansea, Oxford and Southampton. Together they formed the UK Centre for Marine Energy Research aiming to ensure joined-up regional, disciplinary and thematic effort by:

  1. Conducting world-class fundamental and applied research that assisted the marine energy sector to accelerate deployment and ensure growth in generating capacity through 2020 targets.
  2. Expanding and operating an inclusive marine network of academic researchers, industry partners and international collaborators.
  3. Continuing to provide the highest quality of doctoral training and knowledge transfer in partnership with industry to build intellectual and human capacity for the sector.

The research in phase 3 was grouped into five themes:

  • Arrays and farms – to understand and better quantify the interactions between devices, the energy flux in the sea, the natural environment and the electricity network - to optimise behaviour and energy yield;
  • Environmental interaction – to understand the 3D time varying interaction between single and multiple devices and the energy and natural environment arising from the local and large -scale abstraction of energy through electricity generation;
  • Extreme loadings and durability – to become able to predict the extreme conditions, their consequent device and structural loading and the effects on the ultimate survival of components, technologies or devices;
  • Fatigue loadings and reliability – to become able to predict the effects of combined wave and tidal action on the cyclic loadings and the effects on the wear-out or fatigue failure of components, technologies or devices;
  • Novel marine energy systems and components – to develop new wave and tidal energy device concepts, sub -systems and components that improve from those existing.

During phase 3 there were three Grand Challenge calls for proposals to extend the research base and broaden the contributing community. They generated very considerable interest and many excellent proposals, from which the following were selected by peer-review. Phase 3 integrated the staff and activities of these GC projects into the hub in the themes above. All but the most recent of the Grand Challenge Projects are complete and key highlights are reported in section 4 of this monograph.


Optimal Design of Very Large Tidal Stream Farms for Shallow Estuarine Applications; Oct12-Mar16 EP/J010138/1; Prof M Belmont – Exeter, collaborative with Edinburgh.

The Effects of Realistic Tidal Flows on the Performance and Structural Integrity of TSTs; Jul12-Sep15 EP/J010200/1; Prof T O’Doherty – Cardiff, collaborative with Liverpool, Swansea, Bangor and Cranfield.

Extreme Loading of MEDs due to Waves, Currents, Flotsam and Mammal Impact (XMED); Feb12-Jul15 EP/J010235/1; Prof P Stansby – Manchester, collaborative with Plymouth and Edinburgh.

Modelling Marine Renewable Energy Devices - Designing for Survivability (ELoWEC); Jun12-Dec15 EP/J010197/1; Prof C Swan – Imperial, collaborative with Queens and Manchester Metropolitan.

Supergen Marine Technology Challenge (SMARTY); Oct12-Mar16 EP/J010316/1; Prof P Taylor – Oxford, collaborative with UCL and Bath.

Step Change for WEC through Floating Multi-Body Multi-Mode Systems in Swell (STEPWEC); Jun13-16 EP/K012487/1; Prof P Stansby – Manchester, collaborative with Oxford and Bath.

The hydrodynamics of deformable flexible fabric structures for wave energy conversion; May13-Apr16 EP/K012177/1; Prof D Greaves – Plymouth, collaborative with Southampton.

Supergen UKCMER 4 Increasing the life of Marine Turbines by Design and Innovation; May12-Oct15 EP/J010308/1; Prof R Miller – Cambridge, collaborative with Cranfield.

Interactions of Flow, TSTs, Local Sediment Bed under Combined Waves & Tides (INSTRON); Sep12-Feb16 EP/J010359/1; Prof P Dong, - Dundee, collaborative with Hull, Liverpool and Strathclyde.

LS-Interactive Coupled 3D Modelling for Wave & Tidal Energy Res & Env Impact (Terawatt); Jun 12-Nov15 EP/J010170/1; Prof J Side – Heriot-Watt, collaborative with Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Swansea & UHI

EcoWatt 2050; Mar14-Feb17 EP/K012851/1; Prof J Side – Heriot-Watt, collaborative with Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Swansea & Aberdeen.

LS interactive coupled modelling of environmental impacts of marine RE farms (LINC); Oct12-Mar16 EP/J010065/1; Dr B Elsaesser: Queens, collaborative with Imperial College and Cefas.

Reducing the Costs of Marine Renewables via Advanced Structural Materials (ReC-ASM); Jun13-Jun16 EP/K013319/1; Prof M Stack – Strathclyde, collaborative with Newcastle and Southampton.

Dynamic Loadings on Turbines in a Tidal Array (DyLoTTA); Jul16-Jun19 EP/N020782/1; Prof T O’Doherty – Cardiff, collaborative with Strathclyde.

Survivability of Floating Tidal Energy Converters (SURFTEC); Sep16-Aug19 EP/N02057X/1; Prof A Williams – Swansea.

All Electric Drive Train for Marine Energy Converters (EDRIVE-MEC); Apr16-Mar19 EP/N021452/1; Prof M A Mueller – Edinburgh, collaborative with Newcastle, Delft and UdeChile.

Response of Tidal Energy Converters to Combined Flow, Waves & Turbulence (FloWTurb); Apr16-19 EP/N021487/1; Dr V Venugopal, collaborative with U Highlands and Islands and Heriot-Watt.


During the course of phase 3 several of the early deployments of wave and tidal technologies experienced failure either through their inability to survive extreme loadings, their failure under normal loadings in extreme displacements or their early fatigue failure under repetitive cyclic loadings. Concurrently there was a recognition in the wave sector that a structured innovation strategy, based on the phased development and deployment of smaller units that may later be scaled-up, is a potentially more efficient and reliable way of demonstrating and consolidating learning. Interest in the wave sector moved towards the development of components, subsystems and technologies that will lead to improved performance and the availability of ocean-ready and durable elements and know-how. The ETI:UKERC 2014 roadmap re-prioritised R&D needs from the perspective of the sector and identified the high level areas needing most urgent effort: Device and System Deployment; Sub-Systems; Design and O ptimisation Tool Development and Arrays. Across these, several fields are common, including: development of reliability tools and demonstration at array scale; array design and modelling tools; hydraulic systems and power take offs; array electrical systems and interaction analysis. At a European level, the SI Ocean project identified the following priorities: novel system concepts; device and sub-component level reliability demonstration; reliability tools; resource analysis tools and array interaction analysis. Experience gained working with developers, observations of unfolding events in the sector and the agendas of recent investments like the ORE-Catapult affirmed the following need for the work of UKCMER. Additional core funding under award EP/M014 738/1 as Extension of UKCMER Core Research, Industry and International Engagement or Supergen 3+. It seeks to explore numerically and physically the interaction of tidal turbines and wave energy converters with their energy fluxes, one another, their moorings and the electricity network to better understand the cyclic and irregular forces acting and the structural loadings arising, ultimately to reduce fatigue and increase reliability. Staff had to complete other concurrently funded work and only transferred wholly to these WPs in the course of the last year. A 12-month contract extension now schedules the work for completion by December 2017.


1.3 Phase 4


The existing hub of UKCMER was renewed in phase 4 under award EP/P008682/1 in October 2016, with the structure shown and ambitions described in section 5.


Other SuperGen Monographs:

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