Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Wind power

This research area focuses on the design, development, deployment, operation and maintenance of machines that generate clean electricity by harnessing the kinetic energy of moving air.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

The study of machines that generate electricity by harnessing the kinetic energy of moving air, which includes design, development, deployment, operation and maintenance. Spanning materials technology, modelling expertise and the development of components, this research area also covers key multidisciplinary issues such as public acceptability, cost reduction and the possible environmental impact of large-scale onshore and offshore wind farms.

We aim to maintain a cohesive interdisciplinary UK research community that delivers collaborative, user-inspired fundamental and applied research. This will address immediate and long-term challenges, covering industrially inspired technical issues and providing policy-related evidence.

All future UK scenarios for a secure, sustainable and resilient energy supply include a significant contribution from sustainable, cost-effective wind power, at a scale and a level of technological development beyond those achieved to date.

Onshore wind power technology is quite mature, with key innovation happening at development to demonstrator end, which is beyond the remit of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and covered by industry. Regarding offshore wind power, however, there is a strong steer from the UK government and industry to reduce costs significantly, while key environmental and other challenges must be addressed by fundamental research.

Onshore wind power technology is not in the remit of this research area.

This research community in the UK punches above its weight internationally, despite a relatively low academic volume which has reduced slightly. EPSRC will facilitate development at the early career stage to ensure pull-through from investment in training to the development of future leaders and maintenance of world-leading research.

We aim to:

  • support research investments that create high quality, user-inspired research outputs as well as maximising their uptake and impact
  • ensure that any future significant critical-mass investment provides a locus for the research base, built on the UK’s key strengths in innovation – the Supergen Programme and associated centres for doctoral training will deliver this
  • use the existing strong links with the UK innovation infrastructure and industrial end-users to provide solutions to immediate and long-term problems
  • build on and add value to the current, strong training portfolio
  • enable early career researchers to build profiles and track records
  • strengthen connectivity with other funding agencies to facilitate interdisciplinary
  • research and translation to use through the Energy theme
  • promote open access to data and for strategies on data acquisition, curation and signposting for the good of the research community.

This research area is also of potential relevance to the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s Official Development Assistance funding streams.

Why we're doing it

Offshore wind power is of substantial interest to the UK government and industry and will have a big impact on the UK’s ability to reach its 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets. Generating electricity from renewable sources is critical to the decarbonisation of the UK energy system. The UK also currently maintains an internationally leading position in wind power and related innovation, despite relatively lower levels of funding.

To maintain this world-leading research, EPSRC must support and build academic capacity, especially at post-doctoral research assistant and early career level. There are also key problems at high technology readiness levels (TRL) – for example how best to place offshore wind generation further from shore – that can be solved with fundamental to applied research or knowledge transfer.

In addition, this research area has significant potential in overseas markets and there is a need to focus on niche technologies (such as offshore floating platforms) which would be readily taken up in developing countries and the UK.

Within the EPSRC portfolio, we envisage maintaining capacity funding through the Supergen programme, while refocusing on the challenges around floating and offshore structures, and targeting feedback to high-TRL activities (particularly around reducing the cost of electricity generation).

This area has crossover with and draws additionally from the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC’s) Benefiting from Natural Resources strategic theme, which includes consideration of potential environmental impacts and benefits.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Wind Power.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Zaffie Cox

Email: zaffie.cox@epsrc.ukri.org

Tel: 07394 410537

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