Marine Renewable Energy: Technology, Opportunities and Challenges
A public lecture by Guy Houlsby, Professor of Civil Engineering, Oxford University and 2016 IAS Distinguished Visiting Fellow.
Wind, wave and tide are all potential sources of renewable energy, and the industries to exploit them are at different stages of maturity. Offshore wind is already well developed, with the UK for instance having installed offshore wind turbines with a capacity of more than 3GW. The industry faces challenges, however, to push down costs whilst moving to larger installations in deeper water.
Tidal power is at an earlier stage of development, and the tides are a much more difficult resource to understand and exploit than wind. Whilst existing technologies to extract tidal power may work, significant progress is needed towards developing more effective means of exploiting the tides.
Waves could potentially be a major source of power, but their exploitation is at an even earlier stage. In spite of a host of different devices being suggested, none has yet proven to be commercially viable.
The talk will address the developments in all three of the marine renewable technologies, examining both their present state of development and future opportunities.
Guy Houlsby has been Professor of Civil Engineering at Oxford University since 1991, and was Head of the Department of Engineering Science from 2009-2014.
He is an internationally recognised expert on geotechnical engineering and offshore foundations. Applications include structures for the oil and gas industry, and for offshore wind turbines. He also works in theoretical soil mechanics and plasticity theory, developing a rigorous thermodynamically-based approach to constitutive modelling.
His interests in renewable energy focus on tidal power. Analytical and numerical methods are used to understand tidal resources at scales from a single device through to a tidal basin. The patented “Transverse Horizontal Axis Water Turbine” (THAWT) for extracting tidal stream energy is being developed; and he is a Director of Kepler Energy, the spin-out company from Oxford University promoting THAWT.
His research is supported by government funding and co-operation with industry, especially in the offshore sector. He regularly lectures in the UK and abroad, and in 2014 gave the prestigious Rankine Lecture on “Interactions in Offshore Foundation Design”, invited by the British Geotechnical Association. He acts as a consultant in civil, geotechnical and offshore engineering, including legal and arbitration cases.
His first degree and PhD are from Cambridge University. In 2003 he was awarded a DSc degree by Oxford University. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Royal Academy of Engineering.