To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and aid sustainable development, there is an urgent need to support our electricity generating capacity through the development of low carbon technologies, particularly those generated from renewable sources. The ocean represents a vast and largely untapped energy resource, which could be exploited as a form of low carbon electricity generation. The northwest European shelf seas equip Europe with world leading wave and tidal energy resources for the development of a marine renewable energy industry, and are therefore host to a large number of test centres and commercial projects. However, we do not yet fully understand the nature of these resources, and their interaction, over various spatial and temporal scales, including inter-annual variability, and how the resource (and device loadings) will evolve in the future as a result of sea-level rise and changes in weather patterns. Further, we do not yet know how best to optimise wave and tidal energy installations so that these intermittent renewable energy sources can be aggregated to provide a firm source of power to the electricity grid, whilst minimising environmental impacts. This cluster will address these issues within the context of four research themes: (1) Resource assessment; (2) Optimisation; (3) Environmental impacts; and (4) Impacts of the environment on renewable energy devices.
The QUOTIENT Research Cluster will produce scientific research that will examine how wave and tidal energy resources interact with one-another, over a variety of spatial and temporal scales, from centimetres to kilometres and from sub-second to multi-decadal. Research within the cluster will determine how we can best manage marine renewable energy extraction, for multiple resource types, for future energy extraction scenarios, informing future energy policy and investment in the electricity network. The cluster will also investigate how feedbacks between energy extraction and the resource influence dynamical processes that are driven by the resource, such as sediment transport and the maintenance of beaches and offshore sand banks. In particular, this research will determine how such impacts compare to natural variability, and how these impacts could actually be used to our benefit, for example by providing a secondary form of coastal protection from the impact of storm waves via the exciting possibility of geoengineering. By applying a range of high resolution 3-dimensional solutions on supercomputers over a variety of timescales from sub-second (turbulent) to decadal (including climate change), and simulating across a vast range of scales from individual turbines to the edge of the continental shelf, validated and parameterised by field observations and laboratory experiments, the cluster will result in world-leading environmental research that is of direct relevance to industry and policy.