ReferenceError: "department" is not defined.
Skip to main content

Image of wind turines

A £7.7 million partnership between universities and industry could make offshore wind energy cheaper to produce.

The partnership between the universities of Durham, Sheffield, and Hull and energy companies Ørsted and Siemens Gamesa has developed ways to make wind turbine generators more efficient, reliable, lighter and cheaper.

Developing new techniques

As part of the collaborative project, the team at Durham has developed new techniques to monitor the condition of wind turbines which will enable energy companies to predict issues and faults earlier as they develop.

This will mean offshore wind turbines can run more efficiently and for longer periods of time and this could be applied to windfarms such as the world’s current largest offshore windfarm, Hornsea off the North-East coast.

With another gigawatt scale windfarm, set to begin operation in the North-East region this summer, our world-class research and innovation is helping to propel the future of renewable energy both locally as well as globally.

“At Durham, we’ve been at the forefront of the research and innovations behind renewable energy for more than a decade with our ongoing work through the Durham Energy Institute. Our students have taken on real issues being faced by industry and found practical and viable solutions,” said Professor Simon Hogg, who leads the team at Durham.

Experts in energy

The team at the Durham Energy Institute have developed a range of methods to monitor the health and sustainability of wind turbines. These include monitoring the health of turbine bearings by measuring the condition of their lubricating oil, developing new methods for predicting the impact of rain erosion on turbine blades and new image analysis techniques for structural health monitoring by inspection using drones.

“The innovations from this latest partnership have resulted in an improved understanding of how energy companies can monitor the long-term health of the turbines and, where possible, make efficiency savings. All of this can only contribute towards making renewable energy sources more sustainable whilst also helping to drive down the UK’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources in the future,” added Simon.

A net-zero carbon future

These latest advancements, along with research being carried out at Sheffield and Hull universities, have also identified where the next stages of research need to be, to allow even more improvements as we gear-up for a net-zero carbon future.

The partnership, funded by the UKRI Prosperity Partnership programme, specifically aims to support research into real-life issues identified by industrial partners. As a result, the outputs of the project can be quickly adopted into the research and development and production strategies of the offshore wind sector.

Funding for several follow-on projects has already been secured thanks to the excellent collaboration between all the partner institutions. And Durham’s strategic partnership with Ørsted continues to advance the sector.

Find out more

Our Department of Engineering offers a wide range of Engineering pathways, is recognised as ones of the leading centres of research in Engineering in the world and is ranked 5th in the UK in The Guardian University Guide 2022. Students benefit from excellent employment opportunities as well as interdisciplinary research and national and international cooperation.

Feeling inspired? Visit our Engineering webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes.