IDCORE Curriculum

The first year

IDCORE will recruit students from across engineering, science, technology, mathematics and other numerate disciplines. The 1st year will ensure all students are trained in electrical, offshore and mechanical engineering.

Engineering Net Zero

Engineering Net Zero provides the overall context for the first year of IDCORE, including: UN Sustainable Development Goals, general climate change policy, energy transitions and the low carbon energy transition, decarbonisation and the system benefits of ORE in the generation mix; technology development strategies and technology readiness levels (TRL) with reference to historic and current ORE devices; innovation, learning, maturation & cost reduction; guest lectures by project developers on historic ORE technology development and on project structure (commercial, legal and technical).The course also includes an introduction to responsible research and innovation (by ORBIT),a site visit to the ORE Catapult in Blyth and an introduction to technical writing.

Engineering Foundations

Engineering Foundations will mentor the students to develop a personal learning plan increasing strength in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. Supported by academic staff and by their peers, they will learn critical background knowledge before sitting an open book, take-away, exam, set bespoke to their personal learning plans, to demonstrate they have achieved the necessary levels of competence to successfully complete the rest of the programme.

ORE Conversion Technologies

This course gives students a technical understanding of fixed and floating wind turbines, tidal energy converters, and wave energy converters. From an understanding of the physics (aero, hydro, structural and dynamic), students will be able to evaluate the performance of devices and be able to compare the relative effectiveness of different designs. The course will answer questions including why most wind turbines are 3 bladed lifting aerofoils, why wave devices like resonance (except in storms), and how to anchor a tidal turbine to a rocky seabed. The modelling section will introduce appropriate tools introducing: the dynamic modelling of wave energy converters; blade element modelling of wind turbines; this will extend this to consider tidal turbines. The course makes use of the NREL software packages WEC-SIM and OpenFAST and gives the building blocks for use of these tools in later modules.

Measurement and Sensors

This course gives students skills to collect large ORE datasets, check quality & interpret measurements. It introduces Python as a tool which will be used throughout IDCORE (assuming no prior experience). Measuring the environment at ORE sites requires a wide suite of instruments (including wave rider buoys, acoustic Doppler current profilers & acoustic anemometers), which often use unique data formats. Students gain practical experience of handling and interpreting data sets including using the Quality Assurance and Quality Control of Real-Time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) standard. The course supports both the Resource Assessment course and later experimental work.

Marine Renewable Resource Assessment

This course takes a problem-based learning approach to introduce resource assessment requirements and techniques for offshore renewable energy developments. It addresses the modelling and analysis of wave, tidal and wind data, and enables students to apply the techniques learned to real datasets in the context of an offshore energy development. The first three days of each week of the course include lectures, computer-based analysis and modelling sessions, and group-based discussion. The final two days of each week focus on student-led group work to address specific challenges, and links closely to the Group Design Project.

Economic and Policy Analysis for Offshore Renewables

The course addresses aspects of economic and policy analysis which are crucial for a comprehensive understanding of private and public attitudes and behaviour in relation to the offshore renewable sector. These topics include: energy and environmental objectives and appropriate financial and non-financial policies; private sector and financial analysis (e.g. NPV, IRR); levelised costs; an understanding of electricity markets in theory and practice; and an analysis of the links between offshore renewable policies and national and regional economic, environmental and social objectives.

Fluids and Structures

Fluids and Structures considers the fundamentals of marine hydrodynamics for the design of fixed and floating ORE devices, support structures and moorings. It introduces the theory of hydrodynamics as well as the modelling and prediction methods used at various stages of the design process. It gives an overview of mooring systems for floating structures. The theory will be embedded through practical model testing at the Kelvin Hydrodynamics laboratory). Students will gain practical experience of model testing and will demonstrate acquired skills through the testing of an ORE device model and analysis of the generated hydrodynamic test data. This provides students with transferable skills experimental design, scaling procedures and uncertainty analysis.

Electrical Machines and Power Electronics

This course covers the fundamentals of electrical machines, power-semiconductor technologies, & power conversion techniques. It examines the main types of machines currently used in renewable energy (squirrel cage and doubly-fed induction machines, and both field and permanent magnet (PM) excited synchronous machines) along with use of pulse width modulation (PWM) controlled AC-DC-AC converters to connect to the grid, linking generators to power conversion. Students will be guided through a detailed design exercise on PM generators for direct drive offshore renewables. In power electronics, the design & control of machine and grid interface converters will be discussed in detail. In the lab students will develop oscilloscope and measurement skills, as well as an appreciation for the system integration work that is required to implement a practical power-electronic converter, and to determine the performance characteristics of electrical generators. As part of the course students will visit SSEN’s HVDC Centre.

Energy Vectors

This course considers the integration and interaction of ORE with the wider energy system. It will address the challenge of providing the energy needs across the electricity, transport, industrial and heating sectors from non-dispatchable ORE. Starting with the integration with the electricity network through high-voltage AC and DC links it examines the benefits and challenges of co-located energy storage (batteries as well as offshore pumped hydro and compressed air). It also covers conversion to alternative energy vectors such as green hydrogen and synthetic fuels. The course ends with the Power Trader game run by Heuristic Games in which students actively participate in an energy market balancing the needs of stakeholders with different aims, resources and constraints.

Interdisciplinary Group Design Project

The Group Design Project will be designed to reinforce the learning from the other courses in the taught phase. Working in teams of five, students will analyse a project posed by the ORE Catapult. The starting point will be a realistic scenario in which the client has licenced an energy conversion technology and chosen a deployment site.  By the end of the semester 1, groups will have planned a measurement campaign for the site, analysed the resulting resource data, predicted the hydrodynamic performance and expected power output of the converter and estimated annual energy production. During the Industrial Seminar Week, they will make poster presentations on their findings to the ORE Catapult.

At the end of semester 2, the groups will have refined their power performance predictions using model tests, provided an initial estimate of the project’s levelised cost of energy, the internal rate of return and payback period. They will have considered changes needed to optimise the performance of the machine and the deployment site in light of both the machine’s characteristics and the available network connection. At the end of the project the groups will present a Front-End Engineering Design (FEED), RRI assessment and economic analysis to a Dragon’s Den panel from the ORE and ES Catapults and the consortium partners, who will make an investment decision on the project.

Throughout the group design project, teams will have assessed, had audited, and refined an RRI assessment. Highlighting possible ethical, environmental and societal impacts, and related stakeholders is designed to provide a strong motivation for the final 1st year course.

Marine Renewables and the Environment

Students will gain an understanding of the key elements (living and non-living) of coastal and offshore marine environments from an ecological perspective, focusing on how they impinge on ORE developments and their consenting requirements. They will be introduced to background biology of key species groups and habitats along with likely sensitivity to impacts (negative or positive) by ORE construction and operation. Standard survey and data processing techniques will be introduced along with practical demonstrations, including multiple fieldtrips to sites of ORE significance to observe these dynamic environments and wildlife first-hand. Particular attention is paid to the complexities and resource requirements of collecting data relevant to consenting decisions in high energy environments.

Summer Schools and Distance Learning

Marine Renewables and Society

This course broadens students’ understanding of the diversity of uses and users of marine space and resources, and how they impact site selection, planning processes and can create compromises for marine renewable energy developments. Methods used to engage with communities and balance societal interests (Social Impact Assessments and Marine Spatial Planning) will be discussed within the context of changing UK and devolved legislation. The statutory and recommended processes for assessing the social impacts of ORE developments will be covered to a level where students will understand the relevance and timescales within broader environmental consenting processes. Topics will include: introduction to diversity of marine resource use and users; methods for engaging with society; marine governance, policy, and planning; and an overview of assessment mechanisms.

Developing and Managing Innovative Organisations

Developing and Managing Innovative Organisations will increase understanding of approaches and practices by which technological solutions are developed and shaped into new products, services and processes for which there is a market need/opportunity and build greater awareness of the resources and management approaches required for that to happen effectively. It will explore the role entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial thinking play in influencing how opportunities are identified, shaped and taken to market, via establishing new organisations or integration of innovation into existing organisations, examining the role enterprising individuals play in managing and leading innovation and organisational development. The importance of soft skills in these processes, such as networking, negotiation and leadership, will also be considered. Students will learn through a range of means, including online material, interactive lectures/workshops, experiential activities and reflection on practices within their own placement and other organisations. Guest speakers will convey the realities of developing and managing innovative organisations from a range of organisational perspectives and highlight particular opportunities and challenges within the offshore renewables sector.

Materials and Structural Integrity of ORE devices

This course is designed to provide students with advanced skills and knowledge in materials selection and assessment of the structural integrity of offshore renewable devices. It will cover the selection of construction materials in ORE, including traditional metallic materials, newer materials, such as fibre-reinforced composites and emerging materials such as flexible materials. Students will explore the mechanical behaviour of each material category in a marine environment and understand the mechanisms of material failure in order that they can develop skills in the assessment and monitoring of structural integrity. The course will include site visits to see industry practice in the fields covered.

Engineering for Sustainability

This module presents the principles of life cycle analysis and Circular Economy. It covers the assessment of resource conservation by optimal use of resources, including consideration of primary extraction processes, design/manufacturing/fabrication, improving product life and end of life usage. It also reviews the current and planned European legislation that is of relevance to materials and energy and considers its implementation in the UK.

Resilience, Regulation & Certification

This course exposes the students to the need for and operation of standards and certification for ORE technologies. Standards create an important expected benchmark for quality, design and manufacturing processes for the different stakeholders (manufacturers, investors, and operators, insurers). This module introduces students to applicable offshore standards & certification requirements. They will gain and apply knowledge in the mechanisms and processes for certification, covering the principal stages for type and project approval. The course delivery makes extensive use of industry case studies (and guest lectures). It involves the students in a role-play simulation exercise, emulating type and project approval meetings between technology developers and certification agencies.

Asset Management

This course introduces business value within organisations and links it to critical maintenance and operation requirements for ORE infrastructure. It develops practical knowledge and skills in asset lifecycle management, including strategy, planning, lifecycle costing, business models and industry case studies. Research engineers will work with relevant supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)measurements to appreciate the importance for preventative/proactive maintenance. They will complete marine operations planning and modelling case studies using industry software (Mermaid).

Thesis Writing and Viva Preparation

These two, non-credit bearing courses will be provided by the partner universities’ academic excellence programmes and are offered to all PhD and EngD students in the institutions. They support the timely writing of a high-quality thesis and prepare the students for the viva voce examination. Students will also be encouraged to take on-line courses that further improve their presentation skills.

Students will also be encouraged to take non-credit bearing courses for self-development, in areas such as Research Planning & Management, Communication & Impact, Scientific Writing & Publishing, Digital & Library Skills, Personal Effectiveness and Public Engagement.

IDCORE group photograph on cliffs above Orkney coastline with sea in background