Research in Renewable Energy

By Morag cooper

After achieving a first-class BEng (Hons) in Mechanical and Energy Engineering at UHI in 2017, I decided to continue my studies as I felt that I still had more I wanted to achieve academically and successfully applied to do a PhD in the field of marine energy engineering. The title of my research project is “Performance evaluation of tidal and wave energy devices in the marine energy context”.

Renewable energy plays a key role in our energy needs and eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels. Marine renewable energy uses the vast resources of our oceans, seas, and rivers to generate electricity. It is a good complement to other energy sources like wind and solar. The development of marine energy technology is progressing in leaps and bounds, however, there are two major challenges that need to be overcome to put it on a par with wind energy – high development costs and device sustainability in harsh operating environments.

In my research, I am working with two industrial partners; Orbital Marine Power (Orbital) who are a Scottish tidal energy converter developer and CorPower Ocean (CorPower) who are a Swedish wave energy converter developer.

I am analysing data from Orbital’s SR2000 full-scale prototype tidal energy converter (Figure 1), that was moored at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney for a year in 2018. This analysis will allow me to model the power generation relative to the tidal speeds of the ocean and gain an understanding of the performance of the device.

My engagement with CorPower is to research, through literature, the failure rates of components and systems that are similar or the same as the ones used in their wave energy converter (Figure 2), so that they can determine how reliable their device will be and know which components are most likely to fail. This information is very important, especially when planning a maintenance schedule, spares list, and determining costs.

Below are a few links that can be used for further information on the research that is taking place: