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Floating the idea: PML supporting the development of an innovative renewable energy platform to serve off-grid coastal communities

10 March 2021

The large-scale seawater tanks and data analysis expertise at Plymouth Marine Laboratory’s Smart Sound workshop are being used to conduct stability tests on model floating offshore wind platforms as part of the ‘Marlin Star’ project, led by Plymouth-based technology developer Frontier Technical Ltd.

Smart Sound team at PML

Funded by Innovate UK, the £1.4million consortium-backed project is aimed at developing and commercialising an innovative modular, floating renewable energy platform that will enable coastal and island communities access to stored and transferable clean energy.

The platform - designed by engineer Trevor Hardcastle - will be capable of hosting a wind turbine with capacity up to 2MW, as well as onboard energy storage and transfer capabilities.

Its controllable float modules fit into standard ISO shipping containers and assembly is completed underwater without the need for large port infrastructure or heavy floating crane vessels.

“We’re incredibly excited to be working on the project which is really showcasing collaborative strength and excellence across UK engineering, renewable technology and marine science,” says Dr James Fishwick, Head of Smart Sound Plymouth and Head of Technology for the Western Channel Observatory (WCO).

“This is another great example of the world-class facilities and marine science expertise at Plymouth Marine Laboratory being used to support a project that has huge potential real-world benefits; in this case for coastal communities in remote areas. Working with Plymouth-based Frontier Technical is also showcasing the strength of the city itself as a leading hub for marine research and development.”

Frontier Technical’s Trevor Hardcastle added: “The MARLIN modular and configurable system is set to be a UK innovation success story and it’s great to be working with Plymouth Marine Laboratory on the development and deployment of the floating platforms. We’ve already identified a number of ideal locations across the globe where MARLIN will be able to give communities a viable alternative to fossil fuels and we’re very much looking forward to getting it out there.”

In addition to Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the UK consortium partners for MARLIN include the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, Durham University’s Energy Institute (DEI), engineering services firm Francis Brown Ltd and Tension Technology International. Internationally, the consortium also includes India-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), providing social science research in coastal communities in Gujarat state in India.

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