Project title: Offshore wind O & M 'ECUME' tool
Company/Organisation: EDF Energy
Industrial supervisor: Dr Sami Barbouchi
Academic supervisors: Dr Iraklis Lazakis (University of Strathclyde), Professor Lars Johanning (University of Exeter), Henry Jeffrey (University of Edinburgh)
Programme start: January 2012
Industrial Project start: September 2012
My A levels are not those you would expect from a someone now doing an engineering doctorate: English Literature, Media, Drama, History. After a year or two of working in the real world after leaving school (and realising I was heading nowhere) I decided that I needed to do something scientific instead and enrolled on a FdSc in Renewable Energy Technology. This brought my STEM skills back up to the level I needed in order to do science/engineering based degree. After which I achieved a 1st class BSc in Renewable Energy.
What were you doing prior to this programme?
I was working at the University of Exeter as a Research Associate in vibration analysis of drilling risers.
What attracted you to studying with IDCORE?
I wanted to do a doctorate because, during my job as a Research Associate, I realised what the purpose of a doctorate was; to train to be a researcher. Trying to be a scientific researcher without the standard training was a challenge and having a taste of what the end job was like I thought I would better to do it properly. The fact that programme was an EngD is ideal. Working in an industry means that you are given the time to complete your researcher training whilst building the career and networks to give you excellent employability at the end.
What attracted you to offshore renewables industry?/ What aspects of the industry do you find most inspiring, interesting or important for the future?
These days it is very rare for the UK to say it is a world leader in something but, for once, we can in both the most installed capacity and the largest installer of offshore wind in the world. The UK has the best wind resource globally and appears to the have the drive to utilise it. There are challenges to keeping this lead and sustaining the momentum but the technical engineering expertise is being developed. The most important thing for offshore wind’s future is reducing the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) down to £100 /MWh in order to compete with other energy sources. As O&M costs can be up to 30% of total costs, there is a real opportunity for my project to contribute to cost reductions.
Main responsibilities and challenges as a Research Engineer
Working within the EDF Energy R&D team, one half of my research project is to enhance an in- house offshore wind operation and maintenance cost calculation tool to the point that it can be used to find the optimal O&M solution. The other is to apply this tool to EDF Energy’s first offshore wind project Teesside. During this time I will have opportunities to contribute to many interesting projects related to my topic.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date is contributing technical knowledge to the decision making process in the monitoring of the Teesside offshore wind turbines.
What ambition would you like to fulfil as a Research Engineer?
In order for the tool to be valuable, it needs to firstly represent the operations and costs accurately, and secondly be usable by offshore wind managers. Both of these objectives can be accomplished through moving it out of the research sphere and into the operational one. My ambition is to spend a significant amount of time with the actual operations team at Teesside and develop the technical skills and training in order to go offshore. The goal is that this tool becomes standard for all of EDF Group’s offshore wind farms.