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Five Key Take-Aways from MEW 2024

19th March 2024

This week, ESR Technology’s National Centre of Tribology (NCT) team had the pleasure of attending the Marine Energy Wales 2024 conference in Swansea. Meeting with some of the minds behind Wales’ and indeed the UK’s world leading innovations in marine renewable energy, the passion and belief of the designers and developers in the future of the Morlais project and Welsh renewable marine energy was palpable.

Out of two days of presentations and meetings, here are NCT’s key take-aways for the sector, for both technical and commercial interests.

  1. Build effective supply networks

The conference buzz-word was ‘collaboration’ and with good reason. The developers, designers, and suppliers in this industry need to work together to get the attention they deserve in a world where fossil fuels still dominate the market. Not one organisation has all of the skills or assets required to design, install, and operate offshore renewable installations, and everyone will benefit by sharing knowledge and infrastructure.

  1. Carpe diem

There has never been a better time to invest in renewable marine energy; UK off-shore wind capacity alone increased more than ten times over between 2009 and 2022. But time is of the essence; if we do not establish and consolidate the UK marine renewables market and supply chains, expertise, investment, and manufacturing capacity will be drawn away.

  1. Turning the tide

While the sector in general is experiencing a boom, the tidal stream market is particularly buoyant, with several well-established designs to be rolled out in the next few years. Tidal energy has a number of advantages over wind energy: the tide goes in and out twice a day, every day, regardless of the weather, making it a reliable and consistent source of energy. Furthermore, being 1000 times denser than air, the power density of flowing water is much greater, meaning fewer and smaller turbines are required to get the energy we need.

  1. Design for reliability and maintainability

When your device is on the sea-bed, repair is both challenging and expensive. It is vital to make the right choices when specifying components to prevent unscheduled maintenance down the line. ESR Technology can develop custom validation programmes and test rigs to give designers, operators, investors and insurers confidence in a system’s ruggedness.

Ultimately, some maintenance is always necessary; a well-selected suite of condition monitoring sensors will help to identify issues before they take assets off-line or cause additional damage. See our case study on a custom condition monitoring system.

  1. The need for technical standards

As a relatively new sector, there is a lack of accepted industry standards in marine renewable energy. This can make it difficult to convince investors and insurers of the safety and viability of such off-shore installations, leading to significant operational expenditure on insurance premiums. Working together, the industry can develop codes of practice to help to build this confidence, and supercharge future investment.