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Offshore renewable energy

Offshore renewable energy

The University of Exeter has over 20 years’ experience in offshore renewable energy, including wave analysis; marine hydrodynamics; resource modelling; moorings; testing; reliability engineering; offshore installation, monitoring, operations and maintenance.

Research areas

The Offshore Renewable Energy group is a research leader in the fields of marine renewable energy station keeping and fully dynamic mooring simulation. We have expertise in:

  • operating offshore test sites;
  • field measurement techniques;
  • best practice for deployment procedures
  • and power cable dynamics.

Activities include the development of the Falmouth Bay marine energy test site (FabTest) and Dynamic Marine Component test facility (DMaC), to support the University’s ambition to be national and international leaders in the development of the offshore renewable energy industry.

The group’s research capabilities are supported by an active marine operations team with experience deploying a range of field testing equipment, and expertise in hydrodynamic analysis and deployment. The team provide support to international and national companies and local contractors.

The reliability of marine offshore renewable energy installations is one of the main engineering challenges in the sector. Appropriate reliability information is required by a range of stakeholders including project and device developers, component manufacturers and materials suppliers, investors and insurance companies. The University of Exeter’s research capabilities are supported by an active offshore reliability team.

Research in this area focuses on methods to assess, model, demonstrate, test and improve the reliability of components and systems. We have developed research facilities allowing a service-simulation and accelerated test approach.

Knowledge of the wave and tidal characteristics for a site, including their spatial and temporal variability and extremes, is essential for marine activities such as offshore renewable energy development and aquaculture. Understanding the impacts of offshore development on the physical offshore environment plays a key role in sustainable blue growth.

Our resource characterisation work includes physical measurement of the wave and current regime via offshore instrumentation including wave buoys and ADCPs. We also have expertise in numerical modelling, using state-of-the-art software to predict the available resource and assess impacts of offshore development.

Measurement and analysis of the physical conditions in the ocean, including waves and currents, underpins the design and operation of offshore and coastal engineering, as well as the understanding of oceanographic processes.

Combining offshore instrumentation, remote sensing and numerical modelling of the ocean with software development and high-powered computing, the University of Exeter has a track record of providing innovative measurement solutions for a range of applications. These include the detailed design and monitoring of offshore engineering, and interpreting surface ocean conditions from satellite data. Methodologies developed using the local region have been exported to support national and international projects.

Group members

Group memberSpecialism
Prof Lars Johanning (Research Lead) - Professor of Ocean Technology Hydrodynamics and marine operations
Prof Philipp Thies - Associate Professor Offshore reliability
Prof Mohammad Abusara - Associate Professor, Control and Power Electronics Power electronics
Prof Peter Connor - Associate Professor, Sustainable Energy Policy Renewable energy policy
Dr Helen Smith - Senior Lecturer, Renewable Energy Resource characterisation
Dr Ian Ashton - Senior Lecturer, Offshore Technology Offshore technology
Prof Richard Cochrane - Associate Professor, Renewable Energy Offshore wind
Dr Peter Halswell - DMaC Project Engineer Hydrodynamics and marine operations


Our facilities include:

Find out more and book offshore energy facilities »


For more information on any of our projects, please contact Professor Lars Johanning

The United Kingdom Centre for Marine Renewable Energy (UKCMER) is a virtual centre, funded under RCUK's Energy Programme's SUPERGEN initiative. UKCMER seeks to coordinate research in renewable electricity generation using the power of the waves, tidal currents and floating wind turbines. Core partners in the initiative are the University of Edinburgh, Cranfield University, the University of Exeter, University of Strathclyde and Swansea University.

Read more on the SUPERGEN website.

MaRINET2 is an EU Horizon 2020 €10.5 million project which includes 39 organisations, representing some of the top offshore renewable energy testing facilities in Europe and globally. The project depends on strong international ties across Europe and draws on the expertise and participation of 13 countries. Two facilities at Exeter are supported through this infrastructure project: the Falmouth Bay test site (FaBTest) and the Dynamic Marine Component test facility (DMaC).

Find out more on the MaRINET2 website

The €8m EU Horizon 2020 funded Open Sea Operating Experience to Reduce Wave Energy Cost (OPERA) project aims to contribute to the marine renewable energy knowledge base by providing operational experience and field data from two wave energy installations: a floating Oscillating Water Column (OWC) moored at the BiMEP site in the Bay of Biscay and a shore-based OWC installed at the Mutriku plant.

The project consortium comprises 12 industrial and academic partners across Europe, with the University of Exeter leading the mooring system work package and also involved in the control algorithm design and implementation.

Read more on the OPERA project website.

Lobster Grower 2, funded by InnovateUK and BBSRC, is Europe’s largest lobster research project (~£3 million) and follows on from the successful ‘Lobster Grower’ project. Led by the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, this collaborative project is establishing the world’s first pilot-scale on-growing site for clawed lobster using a low carbon sea based container culture approach, which requires no feed input.

The consortium will investigate and assess the economic, technical, environmental and welfare issues associated with lobster mariculture. The University of Exeter is responsible for the development of novel anchoring systems for the containers and the characterisation of waves, currents and turbulence at the site through a combined monitoring and modelling approach.

Intelligent Community Energy (ICE), funded through the Interreg VA Channel programme, aims to develop and promote innovative smart energy solutions for islands or remote communities. Comprising nine partners from the Channel regions of the UK and France, the project is primarily focused on two pilot sites: the island of Ushant in NW France and the University of East Anglia campus in Norwich.

The project will consider aspects such as the regulatory environment, available renewable energy resources, existing energy demand and public opinion to design and implement smart grid solutions for the pilot sites and develop a transferable methodology that can be applied in other remote locations.

Marine-i is a £9.3m project focused on four interconnected themes: marine energy, marine manufacturing, maritime operations and marine environmental technologies, to stimulate and support business-led and market-driven research and development and innovation to drive productivity and the exploitation of new market opportunities.

The project is a collaboration between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, the Cornwall College Group, Cornwall Marine Network, Cornwall Development Company and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.

The project team is based at the Hayle Marine Renewables Business Park ‘Chi Gallos’. Marine-i supports businesses wishing to access the £3.18m Marine Challenge Fund – a delegated grant scheme that has been specifically designed to drive marine sector research, development and innovation.

Read more on the Marine-i website.

A joint collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh, Exeter and Strathclyde, the IDCORE programme is industry-focused and designed to train world-class research engineers in the field of offshore wind, wave and tidal stream technologies. Following a year of taught modules, IDCORE students complete their EngD project based at a sponsoring company with academic support, addressing some of the real challenges facing the offshore energy industry.

Visit the IDCORE website

TIGER is funded by Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, receiving ERDF funding of € 29 million with a total project budget of € 45 Million and is running from 2019 to 2023. The TIGER project will demonstrate that tidal stream energy is a maturing industry, capable of achieving an accelerated cost reduction pathway. The project will build cross-border partnerships to develop new technologies, test and demonstrate up to 8 MW of new tidal capacity at a number of locations around the Channel region, and use the learning from this development to make a stronger, cost-effective case for tidal energy as part of the France/UK energy mix. The project is the largest ever to be approved not only by the France (Channel) England Programme but by any Interreg programme.

Visit our dedicated webpage for further information about our research. Find out more on the TIGER website.

Wave energy is arguably the world’s most valuable renewable energy resource. But the huge potential that it offers has yet to be realised. That is why the WEDUSEA project has been created. The success of the €19.6 million WEDUSEA project will be a catalyst for the industrialisation of wave energy in Europe and around the world.

To make this happen, WEDUSEA has created a unique collaboration between 14 partners spanning industry and academia from across Ireland, the UK, France, Germany and Spain. Each partner brings their own leading-edge technical skills and research expertise to the WEDUSEA project. Co-funded by the EU Horizon Europe Programme and Innovate UK, WEDUSEA is set to be a game-changer for wave energy worldwide.

Visit the WEDUSEA website.