An energy asset refers to every structure, component or system employed in an energy installation be it for wind, tidal or a conventional energy structure such as pipelines or an offshore oil rig.

The elements, whilst providing a source of energy, can wreak havoc on these costly installations – the earth, wind and water can corrode materials over time, whilst heat can distort structures with the intensity generated in power plants. Minimising maintenance costs and extending service life is essential for the energy industry not only due to the financial implications, but other drivers such as safety and loss of performance. Integrity management is therefore a critical activity for both conventional and renewable energy providers and manufacturers.

Some of our areas of expertise include:

  • Fatigue and fracture analysis – methods of assessment to test fitness for purpose and repair with minimal impact to overall performance.

  • Structural reliability analysis – providing design optimisation by systematic quantification of uncertainties and calibrating design standards.

  • Design of structures and components – design, analysis and performance assessment of structures and structural details; testing and characterisation of new materials; engineering for installation, manufacturing and large-scale production.

  • Composite materials – determining the properties of new materials to optimise design and manufacturing.

  • Corrosion analysis – with a focus on modern materials such as very thick plates where combined effect of fatigue and corrosion assessment is required.

  • Requalification of structures – extending the service life of installations by improving structural integrity.

About our research

Our greatest strength is the ability to combine the academic rigour and long-term perspective of a university with the commercial and business focus of industry.

Our excellence in strategic and applied research has enabled us to make significant contributions to the world around us for over 60 years. We address real life challenges and focus on research that is of strategic and practical importance.

We provide a supportive research community for students and our academic work is regularly published in journal article, book or thesis form.

Our facilities

We have a number of unique facilities which support our work in this field. The most notable is our Structural Integrity Laboratory – among the best equipped of its kind in the UK and Europe.

The laboratory has a range of servo-hydraulic fatigue testing facilities as standard test machines as well as proven capabilities for non-standard test rigs built about full or large-scale components. Loading of specimens and components is possible under unaxial tension-compression, bending and rotating bend arrangements. A pipe pressure-temperature rig is available and used for testing and verification of composite pipeline repair systems.

A range of inspection/NDT equipment and structural health monitoring systems are used for crack and stress measurement. The laboratory specialises in the testing of non‑standard specimens and components, development of fatigue design rules, acceptance testing and inspection reliability trials.

Find out more about unique pilot-scale facilities.

Working with us

We offer a number of services to clients from initial and preliminary designs to prototype development, laboratory and field testing and optimisation of existing installations. Much of our research is applied, and as a result we commonly undertake feasibility studies on behalf of our business partners to provide useful intelligence for decision-making.

Our strength lies in our ability to understand how the physics which impact energy structures relate in engineering practice to ensure we can provide accurate measurements, but also understanding what needs to be measured and why.

We develop in-house computational simulations to recommend design details and validate design calculations. We can conduct large/full-scale destructive tests on materials and structural components and advise on ways to resist fatigue and other progressive damage mechanisms. We are able to advise on support structure configuration through multi-criteria analysis.

We are able to take a combined energy asset management approach to analyse the structural integrity of several assets, for example an entire offshore wind farm. By taking a holistic view of multiple assets, we are able to recommend inspection and maintenance schedules which can minimise cost and resources, whilst extending service life.

Find out more about ways of working with us.

Clients and partners

We have worked with a number of research and business partners in this field. We have collaborated with the following research partners:

• Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
• Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC)
• East of England Development Agency (EEDA)
• Energy Technologies Institute (ETI)
• Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
• European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
• European Union Framework Programmes
• Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

Business clients who we work with include:

• Centrica
• Dong
• EDF Energy
• E.ON
• RWE Group
• Statoil
• Surf
• TSC Inspections
• Vatenfall.