Strathclyde partners with Ulster in £6 million energy project

Wind turbine

The University of Strathclyde is lending its wind turbine materials expertise to a £6m EU project aimed at developing renewable energy storage solutions.

The SPIRE 2 project is a cross-border initiative in the UK being funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA programme and led by Ulster University.

The project aims to develop a range of consumer-owned energy storage devices to help meet current and future electricity market needs. It follows the UK Government’s announcement of a complete transformation of how energy will be generated, stored and used in future.

A Strathclyde team, led by Professor Margaret Stack, in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, comprising Prof Bill Leithead, Prof Andy Heyes and Cameron Johnstone, has been awarded £1.1m to recruit five PhD researchers to study erosion and corrosion of wind and tidal turbines.

Unique capability

Prof Stack said: “Wear, erosion and corrosion of materials and surface coatings can limit the performance of renewable energy devices and ultimately energy efficiency.

“The research findings from this project will provide a road map of performance based on laboratory simulation of materials degradation from experimental testing and computational modelling which will inform energy storage models as part of the overall SPIRE2 project.

“At Strathclyde we have a unique capability of erosion and wear testing facilities specifically focused on climatic evaluation for wind turbine structures.

“We are the first group to link the use of weather maps for materials testing for wind turbines and also recently completed a tidal turbine erosion project.

“This interdisciplinary collaboration will involve Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Electrical and Electronic Engineering. The research activity will be the largest concentration in this field in Strathclyde on this important and fast moving area and links the internationally-leading Tribology group and Centre for Doctoral Training Centre in Wind Energy in the Engineering Faculty.”

Prof Neil Hewitt, of Ulster University, said: “Within SPIRE 2, the role of Strathclyde in understanding of long term weather-related impacts on the performance of wind and marine renewable energy systems is very important.

“Information on the degradation in performance over time will provide a sound technical and economic basis for energy storage sizing, both for newly-installed systems and existing systems having to operate in different market structures.

“Ulster University and the rest of the partners look forward to working with Strathclyde as they bring immense expertise in life-time performance of wind and marine energy systems.”

Details of the five PhD scholarships can be found on the Postgraduate Research Opportunities webpage.