Research centre to improve renewable energy production and offshore engineering

A team of University of Queensland researchers will join forces with 40 other organisations to form a new cooperative research centre (CRC), set to improve offshore renewable energy production.

The Blue Economy CRC is a $329 million research project that combines seafood, renewable energy and offshore engineering for the first time.

It is underpinned by a $70m cash investment from the Australian government.

Offshore Engineering program leader and UQ researcher Professor Chien Ming Wang said the funding will be delivered over 10 years to support innovative solutions and transform the way we utilised our oceans.

“Australia has some of the world’s best wind, wave and tidal resources, which have enormous potential to deliver energy to support offshore operations, such as fish farms, and exportable renewable energy,” said Wang.

“Fish farm operators worldwide are moving their farms offshore to take advantage of larger sea space and better water quality to produce healthier fish for a better seafood industry.

“This funding allows us to take our research further and develop infrastructure that can withstand the offshore environment, are commercially viable and can deliver competitive energy solutions for offshore production systems,” said Wang.

The centre will include 50 postdoctoral fellowships, as well as 50 PhD scholarships spread across five different research areas.

The CRC five distinct research areas include offshore engineering and technology, seafood and marine products, marine renewable energy, environment and ecosystems, and governance, policy, business development and communication.

Deputy Program Leader for Environment and Ecosystems and UQ researcher Dr Remo Cossu said the project has support from research organisations and industry.

“This support demonstrates both the pressing need and wide-spread determination to work together towards sustainable food and energy production solutions in the marine environment.”

School of Civil Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Ilje Pikaar said the CRC also highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary research in order to tackle major challenges like climate change and development of sustainable food systems.

“Equally important, it is also a testimony for the research excellence and the strong collaboration across several UQ schools, faculties and institutes,’ said Pikaar.