Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has announced 27 new academic and industry research collaborations on behalf of Science Foundation Ireland, valued at €2.1 million. Dr Srikumar Roy of iCRAG at UCD has been awarded an SFI Industry Fellowship entitled "Floating Offshore Wind: Site Characterisation Framework (FlOWSiChaF)" with industry partner Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions Ltd (GDG).
Offshore wind farms are crucial in supplying the increasing energy demand, while minimising CO2 emissions and global warming. As the shallow near-coast waters are being occupied by the fixed-bottom offshore wind farms, there is an increasing demand in exploring deeper waters (60-200m water depth) for floating offshore wind (FOW) farms. Key technical considerations for assessment of site viability need to be critically assessed before planning and developing a floating offshore wind farm. These key technical considerations are extracted from expensive geophysical and geotechnical data. The FloWSiChaf project will document a framework for site characterisation and economic data acquisition plans for Floating Offshore Wind. This project will not only contribute to maximising the economic and societal impact of Irish State-funded research and resources, but also enhance collaborations between researchers in academia (iCRAG-UCD) and industry (GDG and their clients).
The Programme for Government contains a target for 5GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and, in the long-term, 30GW off Ireland’s southern and western coast, which would enable the fulfilment of Ireland’s indigenous energy requirements and to export enormous amounts of clean energy to Europe. While most of the 2030 target will be delivered through existing fixed-bottom technology, a proactive approach from Government is needed to ensure floating wind turbines are commercialised before the end of the decade. The FlOWSiChaF will provide with critical framework and geo-database required for rapid development of FOW farms offshore Ireland.
Speaking on the announcement of the fellowship, Dr Roy said: "I am delighted to start this exciting project on defining the site characterisation framework for floating offshore wind farms, with expert supervision from Cian Desmond (GDG, Innovation Head) and GDG’s Offshore Design Team. Thanks to Science Foundation Ireland for granting research fund to this excellent academia-industry research project, which will help Ireland in rolling out Floating Offshore Wind farms in recent future, while decarbonising energy supply.”
Dr Roy's role with GDG will involve engagement with small-medium-large industries, both developers and service providers to the offshore wind energy, to develop the framework for site characterisation for floating offshore wind, and maximise participation in research, development, and innovation by companies of all sizes in Ireland and Europe. The work will investigate new and existing geophysical, geological, and geotechnical datasets to develop an integrated geospatial database which will be critical for developing ground models for the planning and development of FOW. The geospatial database end-product will significantly add value to the existing INFOMAR datasets, as well as be of commercial value to the FOW developers and stakeholders. The Site Characterisation Framework for FOW will further reduce costs for acquiring specific data required for the planning and development stages.
The SFI Industry Fellowship Programme is designed to kick-start postdoctoral academic researchers’ careers in industry and to maximise the impact of their training. The programme also supports academic faculty researchers who want to spend time in industry alongside their academic responsibilities. Simultaneously, the placement will allow industry partners to benefit from their research fellows’ knowledge to collaborate on bringing innovative solutions to industry challenges.