Case study by Ørsted

In 2011, Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy) began a strategic relationship with Durham University to sponsor renewable energy research at the University’s Durham Energy Institute (DEI).

As a market leader in the development and operation of offshore wind, Ørsted recognises the importance of developing strong links with academia in order to cement the UK’s position as world leader in the offshore wind industry.

The DEI as a global centre of excellence has proved a perfect match for Ørsted’s world leading experience in the renewables sector. Addressing energy challenges collaboratively through strong partnerships with industry ensures exciting research initiatives with real world applications that achieve maximum impact in the energy sector.

The real-world data and knowledge gathered from Ørsted’s offshore wind operations provides a unique resource for academics to study, whilst research undertaken will help make the UK wind industry even more economically competitive and a play a key role in the UK and European energy mix.

Each year, the company has provided three MSc scholarships at Durham University, as well as funding the Chair in Renewable Energy position at DEI. Ørsted is also now supporting the work of two PhD students through the DEI. The PhD research programmes focus on the operation of wind turbines and predicting of technical faults before they happen.

The programmes are a perfect example of how strong relationships between industry and academia can make a tangible contribution to the energy sector.

The two PhDs bring together turbine maintenance data and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) data, with a view to developing algorithms for predicting turbine malfunction. One will focus on developing a method for analysing and categorising relevant maintenance issues from the maintenance database. This will feed into the work of the second student, who will focus on developing advanced data methods to positively identify turbines that are developing faults before they become critical and require the turbine to be taken off line.

This research which will be undertaken both in Durham and on site at Ørsted offices, could prove vital in improving the availability of offshore wind turbines, ultimately helping to further drive down the cost of energy. By including the students as part of the Ørsted team, they will be able to rapidly gain deep understanding of the company’s key challenges and priorities. This will ensure that research remains highly relevant to the company, as well as enabling knowledge transfer between Ørsted and Durham University.

With the sponsorship and supervision of MSc and PhD students at Durham University, Ørsted is looking ahead to the future of the company and the industry as a whole.

The company is committed to fulfilling its vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy and firmly believes that strong links with academia are a key component in achieving this goal.

Published: 3 October 2018

This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.