SuperGen UK Centre for Marine Energy Research

Phase 3: October 2011 - September 2016

UKCMER Network and Institutions


In the third phase, the core consortium now consists of the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Exeter. The consortium includes the associate universities of Cambridge, Cardiff, Dundee, Heriot-Watt, Imperial, Lancaster, Manchester, Plymouth, Swansea, Oxford and Southampton.


This page is divided into the following sections:

  1. SuperGen Marine Grand Challenges
  2. UKCMER Rationale and Vision
  3. Structure and Operation
  4. Technology Research Strategy


SuperGen Marine Grand Challenges

In the summers of 2011 and 2012 the SuperGen UK Centre for Marine Energy Research placed two £3 million research funding calls commissioning nationally leading researchers to investigate key questions for the present and future of marine energy. The calls had two broad themes, the first, in 2011, concentrated on topics identified at the Workshop for the Accelerated Deployment of Marine Energy. The remit of the call was as follows:

  • Large scale Interactive coupled 3D modelling for wave and tidal energy resource and environmental impact.
  • Technology for device and environmental monitoring
  • Understanding extreme loading events and impact on devices and arrays.

The second Grand Challenges call, made in 2012, was intended to stimulate novel research that focussed on far term goals that could influence marine energy in 2050. The topics of interest were:

  • Novel, future, concepts for marine energy generation.
  • Marine energy generation in very deep water environments.
  • New materials for marine energy generation.
  • Very large array whole systems understanding; including:
    • Large and very large arrays,
    • cumulative large and very large arrays,
    • their impact on the marine environment,
    • the impact of environment on the arrays,
    • device performance within arrays
  • Instrumentation for extreme marine environments.
  • Resource prediction for very short timescales (hours)
  • Marine energy platforms; including:
    • adaptive control,
    • combined (multiple use),
    • multimodal systems,
    • modular systems.
  • Civil integration of GW scale marine energy generation.

These two calls have so far led to the funding of 13 new research projects managed by the UKCMER hub. Each project is listed below, with links to view detailed descriptions of each project:

SuperGen Marine Technology Challenge (SMARTY)
The Effects of Realistic Tidal Flows on the Performance and Structural Integrity of Tidal Stream Turbines
Modelling Marine Renewable Energy Devices; Designing for Survivability
Increasing the life of Marine Turbines by Design and Innovation
Interactions of Flow, Tidal Stream Turbines and Local Sediment Bed Under Combined Waves and Tidal Conditions
Extreme Loading of Marine Energy Devices Due to Waves, Currents, Flotsam and Mammal Impact (X-MED)
Large Scale Interactive Coupled Modelling of Environmental Impacts of Marine Renewable Energy Farms
Optimal Design of Very Large Tidal Stream Farms: for Shallow Estuarine Applications
Step Change for Wave Energy Conversion through Floating Multi-Body Multi-Mode Systems in Swell (STEP-WEC)
The hydrodynamics of deformable flexible fabric structures for wave energy conversion
Reducing the Costs of Marine Renewables via Advanced Structural Materials (ReC-ASM)


UKCMER Rationale and Vision

There are agreed and adopted R&D, technology and deployment roadmaps, produced and maintained by staff of SuperGen Phases 1&2. Based on these roadmaps the aims of the research, network and capacity building of the third phase have evolved to support the sector at and beyond its current stage of development. The aims of the consortium are:

  • To conduct world-class fundamental and applied research that assists the marine energy sector in the UK to reliably and dependably accelerate deployment rates and ensure sustained growth in generating capacity to meet the 2020 targets.
  • To expand and effectively operate an inclusive network of academic researchers, industry partners and international collaborators.
  • To continue to provide the highest quality of doctoral training and knowledge transfer in partnership with industry to build intellectual and human capacity for the sector.


Structure and Operation

The Centre Management Team is:

Prof. Robin Wallace
PI, Executive Director, Financial Management.
Prof. Ian Bryden
Research Director, with responsibility for technology and R&D foresighting.
Prof. David Ingram
Doctoral Training Manager, with responsibility for EU liaison.
Mr. Henry Jeffrey
Marine Network Manager, industrial liaison, and road-mapping.
Prof. Trevor Whittaker
Natural Environment & Deployment Infrastructure, Ireland and Wales liaison.
Mr. Cameron Johnstone
Knowledge Exchange, Economic Interface, Scotland liaison.

The Marine Energy Network is open-access and includes academic, industry and international partners, whilst continuation of the Research Advisory Forum (RAF) will provide formal feedback, input and steerage. The international network will develop and formalise relationships with regions including Europe, the Americas and Asia.

The industry network includes existing collaborators and is open to all interested and committed device and component manufacturers, developers, utilities, agencies, regulatory bodies and government departments. It works in close collaboration with the Energy Generation and Supply Knowledge Transfer Network.

The academic network includes staff with research interests in or related to marine energy from university and HE colleges that are not already core or associate members. The international network includes all interested and committed researchers from outside the UK that are in a position to engage with the work of the centre. There are identified academics or industry partners in countries including the USA, Canada, Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Norway and Portugal.

Doctoral training continues across core universities, associate universities and industry partners in a programme coordinated by the management team in conjunction with the Industrial Doctoral Centre in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE) which is operated by the centre (see for more details). Additionally, as in Phase 2, eight residential training schools are planned, each covering a distinct aspect of marine energy. Coordinated by the DTP manager, courses will be delivered by experts drawn from the academic, industrial and international parts of the network. These schools will be open to any other UK doctoral students in marine energy and their supervisors, additionally to all network members. CPD credits will be awarded to participants.


Technology Research Strategy

The marine renewable industry has developed road maps, including those published by the ETI & UKERC. These have highlighted issues posing significant challenges that may hinder or delay the development of an economically viable industry, including: predictability; manufacturability; instability; operability; survivability; reliability and affordability. These all require complementary development of new industrial applications and underpinning research, where there are gaps in the necessary knowledge. The following initial themes, as examples, follow a gap analysis conducted over the roadmaps and developer issues against currently funded research programmes. This dynamic mapping process will continue throughout the project, building on an evolving appreciation of the issues and needs, fed back through the industrial network members.

  • Array Planning
  • Turbulence
  • Power Take Off Development
  • Reliability
  • Mooring and Foundations
  • Environmental Impact

The research staff in Phase 3 will operate flexibly to establish pathways to solve these and other challenges identified across the sector, and to work in partnership with industry collaborators to raise additional funds and deliver the necessary research outcomes.