E4 - Sustainable whole-life design methods

E - Survivability, Reliability and Design

Status - published
Last updated on: 25/03/2022


Offshore renewable energy systems are designed without a planned use when life expired, which reduces sustainability.


Develop new concepts, components, design and processes, that unlock whole life designs which extend new and existing facilities into recycling, reuse, repair, decommissioning and/or repowering.

Context And Need

Offshore renewable energy systems have a limited operating life, consume significant raw materials and involve placing significant infrastructure in the oceans. Currently, designs are not influenced by considerations beyond the operating life, and few ORE facilities are reaching end of life so this issue has not yet been faced.

The oil and gas industry is facing major decommissioning costs borne partly by the taxpayer which could have been reduced or avoided if decommissioning, reuse or recycling was considered earlier in design.

There is a need to address these issues earlier in the ORE sector to learn from the lessons of the oil and gas industry. This will improve the long term cost profile of ORE developments and will increase the social and environmental acceptability of ORE.


Develop new component technologies, system design concepts and processes, that unlock whole life design improvements that extend into recycling, reuse, repair, decommissioning and/or repower.

Impact Potential

Reduced whole life cost - economic and environmental.

Higher social acceptance - contrast with oil and gas experiences.

Research Status

Active research projects:

  • LiftWEC H2020 Grant 851885: The LiftWEC project involves the development of a novel wave energy converter whose primary coupling with the waves is through the generation of hydrodynamic lift on a rotating hydrofoil. This will be achieved by a combination of numerical/physical modelling and desk-based studies of the structural design, the operational & maintenance requirements and the environmental/social impacts of the technology.
  • Disposal of End-of-Life composites: This project covers the disposal of marine composites which may arise from marine sports equipment, boats and ships, submarines, marine renewable energy systems or offshore oil exploration and exploitation industries. Consideration is given to the avoidance of waste by appropriate design, manufacturing, marketing and maintenance through life.
  • HOME-Offshore: Holistic Operation and Maintenance for Energy from Offshore Wind Farms (EPSRC, EP/P009743/1): This project investigates the use of predictive modelling, robotics, advanced sensors and big data techniques to target interventions and thus improve safety, and reduce the cost, of the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms. This will also help address the increasing shortage of skilled workers in this field.
  • Resource Recovery from Waste: Resource Recovery from Waste is a collaborative research programme engaging academia, industry, government and the general public to develop knowledge and tools to reduce pressure on natural resources and create value from wastes. It was set up to deliver the environmental science needed to support a radical change in the waste management landscape. With six projects at leading UK universities, the programme is building tools to model the multiple dimensions of value whilst also developing enabling biogeochemical technologies for new supply chains.
  • Development and demonstration of durable biobased composites for a marine environment (SeaBioComp): SeaBioComp is a collaborative project with the aim to develop and produce novel bio-based thermoplastic composite materials and the analytical protocols to evaluate long-term durability and reduced ecological impact on the marine environment.


Supergen ORE Hub Flexible Funding Research

  • Physics-informed machine learning for rapid fatigue assessments in offshore wind farms
    Lead Institution: University of Hull

    Offshore wind energy is key in the UK’s plan to deliver the legally binding Net Zero 2050 targets, quadrupling the capacity by 2030. First-generation offshore wind monopiles are rapidly approaching their end of designed life. The next-generation of wind turbines are significantly larger, yet still monopile support structures dominate. Accurate estimation of accumulated monopile fatigue is essential now, to inform decommissioning decisions, and optimise future design and maintenance. Due to unpredictable offshore environments, and the difficulty of taking structural measurements, fatigue predictions are subject to significant error. This project proposes an industry-compatible step-change advance in accumulated fatigue assessment via novel integration of physical modelling and machine learning. The proposed model provides an intuitive prediction of the level of fatigue for any turbine within the farm, at any point of its lifetime from distinct operational and environmental conditions, verifiable against physical models, yet with increased efficiency and fidelity of lifetime fatigue estimation


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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