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University awarded £1m to create national test facility for renewable technology

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The University of Plymouth has been awarded more than £1million to create a unique facility for testing new innovations in floating offshore wind technology.

Supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the project will upgrade the COAST (Coastal, Ocean and Sediment Transport) laboratory, housed within the University’s Marine Building.

It currently enables researchers to study how devices are impacted by waves and currents and, since opening in 2012, has been used to test a range of offshore renewable energy devices.

The additional investment will enable wind generation to be added, creating the UK Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Test facility within the COAST Lab’s Ocean Basin.

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A first-of-its-kind facility within the UK, it will enable physical modelling experiments with wind, wave and currents simultaneously.

The data generated in these experiments will enable researchers to improve their understanding of how future technology advances could be impacted by atmospheric conditions. It will also provide a low-risk environment in which researchers from academia and industry can test new and novel concepts.

Floating offshore wind turbines are increasingly being seen as an integral element of the UK’s offshore renewable energy sector. The UK presently has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind, and it contributed around 10% of the UK’s power in the third quarter of 2019.

However, the majority of existing turbines are fixed to the seafloor in water depths up to 60metres, and such sites are in limited supply.

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