H4 - Reducing uncertainty of both technology and social costs of ORE

H - Marine Planning and Governance

Status - published
Last updated on: 21/06/2022


There is no agreed process to evaluate the whole-system benefits of offshore renewable energy, including technology and social costs and benefits. Nor is it established how to identify and qualify/quantify the well-being from employment, identity and cultural aspects of future ORE industries


Analysis through the development of a whole-systems model to facilitate both economic and socioeconomic benefits of ORE. Development of methods to assess and communicate the range of social benefits and well-being from future large scale ORE developments

Context And Need

There is a need to understand and qualify/quantify the benefits of ORE beyond low carbon electricity by analysing salient factors and valuation of a range of social benefits information on social capital/well-being.


The lack of a standardised and validated approach to marine planning for ORE developments is holding back the development of the ORE sector and establishing such an approach is necessary to allow policymakers and investors to make informed decisions on the funding of the ORE sector.

Impact Potential

A standardised and validated approach to ORE marine planning would facilitate deployment, which would enable learning-by-doing, which would in turn reduce CAPEX from economies of scale and OPEX from operational experience.

Reducing uncertainty in technology and social costs of ORE will help reduce non-technical barriers to sector development and will lower costs of both CAPEX and OPEX significantly by reducing the risk of opposition due to fuller understanding of potential benefits of ORE.

New approaches and models will be cutting edge science

Research Status

Individual models currently exist but a standard, whole-system approach is required.

There are expert groups, frameworks and models around the world as well as in UK:


Supergen ORE Hub - Flexible Funding Research

  • LoadTide
    Lead Institution: University of Edinburgh
    This project will directly solve the challenge of measuring the fatigue performance of tidal turbine blades by generating, for the first time globally, statistically robust accelerated cyclic loading data for the lifetime of a fullscale tidal blade. This will be carried out at economic cost over a short timescale that will enable developer designs to be more quickly refined than is currently possible. Tidal turbines operate in a harsh marine environment, characterised by significant levels of flow unsteadiness, with tidal blades needing to withstand both deterministic (e.g. shear profile, tidal fluctuations) and stochastic (e.g. waves, turbulence) induced loads. The resulting fatigue loading is a significant cause of blade failure. Understanding these loads and their impact on blade structural performance is crucial in order to avoid premature failure and to increase confidence in tidal blade design, leading to reduced cost of energy. This project will model, define and apply these fatigue loads to develop a process for full-scale tidal blade testing.
  • FASTWATER: Freely-Available mesoScale simulation Tool for Wave, Tides and Eddy Replication
    Lead Institution: University of Edinburgh

    Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE), and multiple other marine technology interventions, are constrained by insufficient understanding, at the right scales and times, of the dynamic interactions of underlying ocean physical and environmental processes. These processes, including waves-current-turbulent atmosphere, are not adequately measured, statistically characterised or modelled to enable efficient design and operation of offshore infrastructure. For tidal energy sites in particular, spatial variability and the presence of waves result in significant uncertainties in device response and performance, with yield prediction errors of 30% reported. These effects are amplified across arrays. Further, recent research indicates that channel-scale three-dimensional (3D) flow features play a dominant role in the error of array yield predictions. Numerical simulation tools must replicate waves, spatial variability and 3D flow features robustly, with complexity built up in a modular way and with holistic and transparent spatial calibration and validation. Model calibration-validation in ORE lags other sectors e.g., climate modelling, epidemiological models of the covid pandemic and petrochemical exploration. Statistical techniques, commonly used in e.g., economics, neurology and seismology, are underused and could be readily adapted to help characterise spatial features of the flow. The project team have identified a large and costly gap between the development of increasingly complex and powerful models in academia and their adoption & exploitation by ORE organisations. FASTWATER is a targeted programme of research which - informed by industry - builds on multiple EPSRC academic and UK and EC industrial-academic projects, to bridge this gap. The primary aim is to reduce the cost of tidal energy arrays by developing powerful simulation tools that can be readily exploited by the sector.


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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