ocean energy

MARINA deepwater production platform for wind and marine power

A new project under the 7th Framework Program for R&D+i of the European Union is underway, bringing together companies, technology centres and universities from twelve EU countries. The objective is to develop deepwater structures that can exploit the energy from wind, wave, tidal and ocean current energy sources.

Acciona Energy heads a European R&D consortium of 17 companies, universities and technology centres from 12 countries with the aim of establishing a technological basis to ensure the viable and competitive integration – on a single deepwater production platform – of a number of marine renewable energies such as wind, wave, tidal and ocean currents.

The project, named MARINA Platform (Marine Renewable Integrated Application Platform), has a total budget of €12.8 million. It is co-financed by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme (7FP) for Research with a subsidy of €8.7 million.

Integrating wind and marine energies

From now until June 2014 (the expected completion date of the project) the consortium created around MARINA will analyse a wide range of aspects with a view to exploiting the predicted offshore wind power boom in order to integrate this energy source with other marine renewable technologies (wave and currents) on platforms located in deep water (i.e. above 40 meters) several miles off the coast.

This will mean that the useable renewable energy capacity in the sea will increase considerably and, at the same time, synergies will be generated among the different technologies to lower costs and help them to become economically viable.

Pan-European consortium

The MARINA project will be performed by a multi-disciplinary consortium of organisations that are specialised in the different technologies involved, such as wind power, marine energy, offshore oil and gas rigs, oceanography, meteorology and marine biology.

The group’s profile includes leading industries in their respective fields, universities and technology centres. Among the first, headed by Acciona, is Dong Energy (Denmark) – the first offshore wind power operator in the world – and Statoil (Norway), a leader in prospecting for oil and gas in deep water and the owner of the only floating wind turbine installed and operating to date. Other industry participants include Technip (France), Progeco (Italy), Corrosion & Water Control (Netherlands), Bureau Veritas Nederland (Netherlands) and 1-Tech (Belgium).

The industrial members are matched by its six academic centres: NTNU (Norway), which has the scientific lead based on its deep knowledge of offshore structures as well as renewable ocean energies; the University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom); the University College Cork (Ireland); the École Central de Nantes (France); the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece); and the University do Algarve (Portugal).

Three other members are applied technology centres: Tecnalia Robotiker (Spain), Riso DTU (Denmark), and Fraunhofer IWES (Germany). Fraunhofer IWES is also the coordinator of an EU-wide Coordination Action supported by FP7 energy from the same Call which addresses the issue of multi-purpose offshore renewable energy production platforms as a networking project. This action, ORECCA, will be run in parallel with the MARINA R&D project during its first year and a half and close interaction between the two projects will be secured in order to maximize the overall European added value.

The total research team mobilized by the project corresponds to more than 30 full-time researchers in 12 European countries dedicated to the project over the next four and a half years.

The project highlights the tremendous potential for the implementation of deepwater offshore renewable energy parks, if competitive cost levels can be achieved. The “standard” offshore wind parks of this type are envisaged to have a capacity of more than 1,000 MW, and a starting assumption for the MARINA project is that a significant part of the capacity could be obtained by mobilising the immense wave and marine current energy resources of Europe synergistically with wind. For this to be realised, however, significant research will be needed, which the MARINA project is the first to attempt systematically and on a significant scale.

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