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End-of-Life Study Into Offshore Wind Turbines Led by University of Hull Team



A University of Hull study into the end-of-life cycle of offshore wind turbines has been boosted by £100,000 of funding.

The team, led by Computer Science lecturer Dr Nina Dethlefs, will focus on the role machine learning could play in helping to monitor and predict the level of fatigue for any wind turbine within an offshore farm.

A particular focus of the study is on the monopile of the turbine – the foundation which extends the turbine tower under water and into the seabed.

The monopile is one of the most at-risk components of the turbine to fatigue, due to stresses and strains caused by the impact of waves, tides and weather.

The new research, led by Hull, is supported by £100,000 funding from the Supergen ORE Hub.

Dr Dethlefs, Principal Investigator of the new project, said: “Accurate estimation of monopile fatigue is essential to help inform decisions which are made into the potential decommissioning and replacement of offshore wind turbines, as well as optimising future design and maintenance.

“Due to the challenging and unpredictable environments these turbines are located in, accurate predictions on the fatigue and wear are often subject to significant error.

“Using machine learning, we hope to be able to more accurately predict the end-of-life stage of a turbine. A huge thank you must go to the Supergen ORE Hub for its support in this vital research.”

Offshore wind energy is key in the UK’s plan to deliver the legally binding Net Zero 2050 targets, with an aim to quadruple the capacity by 2030.

The oldest offshore wind monopiles are rapidly approaching their end of designed life. The next-generation of wind turbines are significantly larger, yet still monopile support structures dominate.

It is hoped the use of machine learning and computer technology can improve understanding of the life cycle of a turbine.

Dr Dethlefs has been supported in the research by a team comprising of Professor Lizzy Cross from the University of Sheffield, Hull post-doctoral researcher Dr Agota Mockute, and project partners Atkins, Eleven-I, TECOSIM, Jesmond Engineering and ORE Catapult.

Dr Mockute said: “This project has brought together a strong, interdisciplinary team from both industry and academia to explore a very real challenge facing the offshore wind industry.

“By furthering our understanding of monopile fatigue accumulation and hence the end-of-life state of a wind turbine, we can massively increase the efficiency at which these machines are either decommissioned, repaired or replaced, or have their lifetime extended.

“The first offshore wind turbines to be installed in the UK are now only several years away from the end of their estimated lifespan. This research will therefore play a critical role in the next stage of their lives.”

Funding for the University of Hull came as part of a wider £800,000 allocated by the Supergen ORE Hub to eight projects at UK institutions through its Flexible Funding Scheme, designed to support ambitious research in offshore renewable energy.

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