D3 - Drive train design

D - Sensing, Control and Electromechanics

Status - published
Last updated on: 23/03/2022


Improved drive trains are required to accommodate a large dynamic range, with increased lifetime and reduced CAPEX and OPEX.


Conception, design and validation of novel drive trains for ORE devices including hydraulic drives and direct drive generators.

Context And Need

Drive trains and generators are required to meet two competing requirements: to operate efficiently over a wide range of input conditions but also have sufficient resilience (thus low maintenance requirements) including sustaining occasional extreme loads. They typically consume a significant proportion of CAPEX and OPEX and impose constraints on the rest of the systems due, for instance, to their weight.


Conception, design and validation of novel drive trains for ORE devices including hydraulic drives, direct drive generators and devices to couple multiple prime movers into single generators. Designs should aim to provide a large dynamic range, with increased lifetime and reduced CAPEX and OPEX.

Impact Potential

To reduce LCoE, particularly for wave and tidal energy, lower cost drive trains and generators which combine efficiency and robustness are required. To allow scaling up of wind requires drive trains and generators with lower weight, lower maintenance requirement, and with reduced reliance on rare earth materials.

Research Status

Research Status


Active research projects:

  • All Electric Drivetrain for Marine Energy Converters (EDRIVE-MEC): EDRIVE (EP/N021452/1) aims to tackle a fundamental weakness of current wave energy converters, namely the electro-mechanical Power Take-Off (PTO). EDrive will improve the PTO chain from generator through to grid interface by creating an all-electric solution. This will, in turn, address issues of reliability and maintainability.


Supergen ORE Hub - Flexible Funding Research

  • Investigation into the coupling of a wave energy converter with a reverse osmosis desalination plant
    Lead Institution: Queen’s University Belfast
    This research will investigate the direct coupling of wave energy converters to reverse osmosis desalination plant powered by pressurised water from the primary power take off system. Although reverse-osmosis desalination plant driven by renewable energy currently exist, they have mostly used an electric pump to provide a relatively stable saline water flow. Direct coupling to the hydraulic output of a WEC poses several challenges the most significant being that reverse-osmosis (RO) plant does not normally operate in variable inflow conditions and consequently there is very little published research in this area. As not all WEC concepts are suitable for direct hydraulic coupling to RO plant, it is essential to develop a target specification and apply it to current and proposed technology.
  • A hybrid and scalable digital twin for intelligent direct drive powertrain condition monitoring
    Lead Institution: University of Strathclyde
    As larger wind turbines with newer powertrain technologies are introduced in the offshore wind sector, state-of-the-art machine learning techniques that use past field data are no longer directly applicable. Operational alarms based on physical models of older turbines are often no longer valid with new powertrain technology. This represents a key vulnerability in the offshore wind sector. This project will develop a hybrid digital twin combining transfer learning and physical modelling approaches that will be able to model normal and abnormal behaviour for new turbines before operational data is available. As turbines move further offshore, operators are motivated to reduce the number of turbine visits for cost and safety reasons. The hybrid models proposed in this application could be used to reduce the number of powertrain inspection and service visits. The requirement for visits will be reduced through the digital twin providing additional health indicators and recommendations to the operators, and by adding confidence to the use of existing health indicators provided by SCADA and monitoring systems


Links to Industry Priorities:


We would also like to invite UK researchers and industry stakeholders within ORE to submit links to research projects, both past and present, for inclusion within the landscape.

Therefore, if you have a UK-based research project within an area of ORE that you feel is relevant to a specific research theme or challenge within the Research Landscape, click HERE to submit your research project to the research landscape


PhD projects in Offshore Renewable Energy

In order to better understand the breadth of ORE research currently being conducted in the UK, the Supergen ORE Hub has collated from its academic network, UK Centres for Doctoral Training and Industrial partners, a list of PhDs currently being undertaken in ORE.

Access a PDF of the list and find out more about including your PhD.

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