Engineers Help Craft Report on Offshore Wind Energy

POWER-US report makes case for U.S. investment in collaborative offshore wind energy research and innovation
James F. Manwell
James F. Manwell

Three members of the engineering faculty have contributed to a new report that says the U.S. could tap into a vast offshore wind energy resource and better steward its marine environment by galvanizing large-scale research and fostering public-private partnerships.

The report, issued by the Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Research (POWER-US),draws lessons from past industry-transforming initiatives and concludes that similar approaches can be taken to greatly expand the ability of the wind energy industry to generate power and jobs for the U.S. economy. POWER-US is a group of academic and research institutions that includes UMass Amherst and the university’s campuses at Lowell, Dartmouth and Boston; Northeastern and Tufts universities; Bristol Community College; and Massachusetts Maritime Academy,

Faculty members from UMass Amherst who worked on the report are James F. Manwell, director of the Wind Energy Center, Sanjay R. Arwade, civil and environmental engineering, and Matthew A. Lackner, mechanical and industrial engineering.

The report, “Reaching Convergence in U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Research: A Multidisciplinary Framework for Innovation,” is the result of a two-year initiative convened by the Massachusetts Research Partnership in Offshore Wind (MRP) – a partnership of several academic and research institutions. The initiative included nine major workshops and numerous discussions with industry leaders and university researchers across the U.S. and globally. The POWER-US initiative and other efforts across the country are precursors to the collaborative approach needed to transform the wind energy industry.

“We have the potential to become a world leader in offshore wind energy generation and innovation if we put our resources behind the effort and work and work together to make it happen,” says Fara Courtney, strategic advisor for POWER-US.

The report notes that public investment in research and strong connections between academia and industry have helped advance offshore wind energy in Europe. It describes how large-scale public support and the convening of complementary expertise were critical to the success of other large-scale U.S. scientific and engineering initiatives, such as earthquake simulation, oceanography and materials manufacturing. The report builds upon these examples and proposes a similar research and development framework.