News Details | 07-Oct-2011

NTU puts wind in the sails for ocean energy research

The university partners top MNCs and renowned international research centre

Innovative ways to better anchor and stabilise offshore wind turbines and novel nano-coatings to fight corrosion at sea are just some of the cutting-edge research projects that will be conducted at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

These projects, geared towards developing cost-effective ways to construct efficient offshore power systems around the world, are part of NTU’s latest tie-up with multinational companies such as Rolls Royce, DNV, Vestas and Keppel Offshore & Marine.

Known as the Joint Industry Programme in Offshore Renewables, this multi-disciplinary and collaborative venture will see academia and industry work together in offshore wind turbines and other sea-based power generation research – the first of such programme in the local offshore renewable energy sector.

This collaboration aims to develop more efficient and effective offshore wind and marine power generation systems, saving invaluable land which can be allocated towards the growing of food crops, as well as housing and industrial use; a practical solution for land-scarce countries around the world.

Ocean wind and marine energy, a renewable and inexhaustible resource for electricity production, has vast untapped potential, as about 70 per cent of the world is covered by oceans.

Currently, the world is faced with the global challenges of climate change, a depleting supply of fossil fuels and the increasing cost of those fuels. Therefore, there are immense opportunities in offshore renewable energy, as up to 30,000 offshore wind turbines will be installed by 2030 just in Europe alone –  translating to an average of one installation every 2 hours each working day.

The European Wind Energy Association expects the market for offshore wind turbines to increase from an annual growth rate of 1.5 GigaWatt (GW) in 2011 to 6.9 GW in 2020. This would mean an increase in annual investments from S$5.8 billion in 2011 to S$15.5 billion in 2020.

In addition to engaging industry players for this new Joint Industry Programme, NTU is also collaborating with two world renowned research partners - the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the Norwegian Research Centre for Offshore Wind Technology (NOWITECH), to leverage on their strengths and expertise in the area of offshore renewables.

The Joint Industry Programme, hosted at the Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and co-funded by industry partners, will have over twenty-five industry and application-oriented research projects over the next three years, grooming 35 PhD students, Masters students, and Research Associates.

ERI@N, which focuses on research areas such as sustainable energy and electromobility, has funding of over $200 million by the National Research Foundation and the inter-agency Energy Innovation Programme Office.

This new Joint Industry Programme at ERI@N will provide a platform to develop expertise in offshore renewables, with a special focus in the South East Asia region, which would lead to new commercialisation and technological leadership opportunities for Singapore and the participating members.

A one-day Workshop on Offshore Renewables held in conjunction with this first-ever collaboration, where scientific and company presentations will be made on the latest developments and trends in the offshore renewable sectors.

NTU President, Prof Bertil Andersson, said the establishment of this Joint Industry Programme, comes at a time when sustainable energy is fast becoming a major cause for concern for a vast range of stakeholders – from governments and organisations to businesses and educational institutions.

"The research into this technology area holds the greatest promise for renewable energy sources for the future. I’m also excited that this program is going to be executed in partnership with four companies; the synergy that such a nexus will yield, will provide far more value than what can be achieved by any one of us working in isolation," said Prof Andersson.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology,  renowned for its engineering strengths, trains 80 per cent of Norway’s engineers, and Norwegian- based SINTEF is one of the largest independent research organisations in Europe. NOWITECH is an S$80 million dollar centre co-funded by the Research Council of Norway and industry partners to research on technologies which would result in cost-effective offshore wind farms, with an emphasis on applications for “deep-sea” wind turbines.

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Quotes from Industry Partners

NOWITECH director John Olav Tande emphasises: “The offshore wind technology is in an early phase, but holds great potential for large scale energy supply. Technical development and the lowering of costs are required. The challenges involve multiple engineering sciences, and calls for international cooperation. I am pleased to see now the cooperation between NTU and NOWITECH, and expect significant joint progress and benefits.”

Chief executive officer of Keppel Corp and Chairman of Keppel Offshore & Marine, Mr Choo Chiau Beng said: “While renewable energy today needs Government support in many instances to be viable, it is really the only sustainable source in the long run. Offshore is where the future is; as we learn to tap the winds, wave and currents in areas where we do not interfere with human living and activities. With Keppel’s experience in offshore and marine, we hope to play a meaningful role in this great venture.”

BT Markussen, Managing Director of DNV’s Clean Technology Centre in Singapore said: “DNV has joined this program in order to ensure that we are up-to-date on the technical challenges and the needs of our clients developing and operating offshore renewable assets in the Asian market, and at the same time share our experiences from the global offshore wind industry. Participation in this Joint Industry Program also further strengthens our cooperation with important partners like Vestas, Keppel, Rolls Royce, ERI@N, NTNU and Nowitech.”

“An additional value of this JIP for us is that the model of the program gives DNV access to a brilliant pool of talents at NTU for future technical leadership positions in DNV Asia,” Mr Markussen added.

Kurichi Kumar, Head of Advanced Technology Centre Singapore, Rolls-Royce said: “We are happy to participate with ERIAN through this joint industry PhD programme to embark on the research of related offshore marine energy. This will certainly help to develop local talent and capability to support our renewable energy initiatives”

VP of Asia Innovation of Vestas Technology R&D Singapore, Mr. Peter Cheng said: “This marks another milestone in our collaboration with NTU and regional partners in developing key technologies that will enable us to continue pushing the boundaries of product innovation. With the world energy needs growing rapidly, it is vital that we continue to harness regional competence to develop renewable technologies, such as offshore wind energy to reduce the cost of energy further.”


Media contact

Lester Kok
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: 6790 6804; Mobile: 9741 5593

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