An offshore multi-purpose platform (MPP) can integrate renewable energy devices and aquaculture facilities, thereby saving money, reducing impact, and maximising socio-economic benefits.

At a glance

  • DatesJuly 2017 – July 2020
  • SponsorEPSRC
  • Funded£766,238
  • PartnersBPP-TECH, China Classification Society, DNV GL (UK), FAI Ardtoe Marine Research Facility, Harbin Engineering University, StatOil Hydro, ZheJiang Ocean University (China) and National Ocean Technology Centre (China)

Offshore structures are very costly. The main idea of a multi-purpose platform (MPP), integrating (for example) renewable energy devices and aquaculture facilities, is to find the synergies to share manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance, and decommissioning costs.

MPP development poses cross-disciplinary challenges, since they simultaneously aim to achieve several potentially conflicting objectives: to be techno-economically feasible, environmentally considered, socially beneficial, and compatible with maritime legislations.

In the EU, previous research focused on farms, with little attempt to investigate lower rated power systems suitable for island or coastal communities. In China, previous projects aimed at island communities focused on renewable energy, but did not integrate any aquaculture elements.

Therefore, for island communities, novel fundamental questions arise, especially in terms of techno-economic feasibility and assessment and maximisation of socio-environmental benefits at a completely different scale, but still requiring a whole-system, cross-disciplinary approach.

The proposed solution is to investigate which are the specific challenges arising from the integration of these different offshore technologies, and with a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle them, making sure that all the dimensions (technological, economic, social, environmental, legal) are taken into account.

This consortium brings together internationally recognised experts from three Chinese and three British universities and institutes, for a total of 20 investigators, in the fields of solar and offshore wind and wave energy, control systems for renewable energy devices, environmental and socio-economic impact of renewables and aquaculture systems, aquaculture and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture development, and ecosystem modelling.

The project has an industrial advisory board (see partners) providing feedback on the industrial relevance and appropriateness of the research proposed, and will organise open community workshops to raise the awareness on MPP in the UK and in China.