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Marine Renewable Energy Research Infrastructure

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MARINERGI (Marine Renewable Energy Research Infrastructure)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

The world is transitioning to more sustainable energy sources and Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) can make a significant contribution to the renewable energy mix in Europe and globally. However, a long-term coordinated Research and Development (R&D) initiative is needed to develop the innovative technology required to harness the potential of wind, wave and tidal energy. A core requirement is an integrated strategic approach amongst testing facilities.

Developers require research infrastructures to supply the controlled conditions to test a technology/device and progress through the Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). European test site installations are typically small to medium-sized and cannot offer a wide variety of services to test multiple technologies across the TRLs or specialised expertise in all the areas required. There is also a lack of common and standard practices. This results in developers undertaking isolated testing in several places, sometimes backed up by limited or short-term financing. The absence of continuous support and momentum is an obstacle to substantially advancing knowledge and efficiently advancing technologies. This approach also fails to take advantage of potential joint research and knowledge sharing between facilities that could improve testing methods and outcomes. In addition, the lack of strategic planning results in facilities scattered throughout the EU, which produces redundancies and/or gaps across the TRL map.

To date, the ORE R&D community’s approach has been to share efforts though joint actions such at ERA-NET and Framework programmes (FP7, H2020). For example, the MaRINET project successfully delivered a network of facilitites; joint research to improve the quality of testing outcomes; and a high demand access programme. However, these efforts have a limited impact given their transient nature. It is time now to evolve to a fully integrated and long-term approach.

MARINERG-i is an H2020 EU project (2017-2019) that aims to extend existing programmes and seek additional mechanisms to support a more effective and sustainable collaboration. The consortium is comprised of 14 partners and brings together all the European countries with significant testing capabilities in ORE (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The primary objective is to define the MARINERG-i Distributed Research Infrastructure (DRI) concept, designed to facilitate the future growth and development of the ORE sector. To achieve this, the project has produced a scientific and business plan for an integrated European DRI. Results will be used to gain support for the realisation of this Pan-European RI and for an application to the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) 2021 roadmap. Success would provide access to funding to establish and prove the sustainability of the MARINERG-i DRI.
Work performed and key results achieved have been published on the MARINERG-i website. These include:

Vision, mission and values statements
The DRI mission is to:
1. Drive the development of innovative, investable ORE technologies by
· Streamlining research, testing, training & user access
· Adopting common codes of practice for uniformity in testing performance metrics, validation and certification
· Implementing an e-infrastructure platform for remote access & secure data storage and analytical services
2. Accelerate the development of the ORE industry by leveraging and combining local/regional knowledge and capacity.
3. Inform national and EU policy and infrastructure investment strategies to sustain global leadership and reputation in the ORE sector.

Science plan
Bringing together a large number of engineers and scientists, the DRI will create a cohesive scientific community with core strategic objectives. A common science plan will address a wide panel of fundamental questions, which need to be answered to support the ORE industry through all the stages of development along the path to deployment and production. The scope has been separated into four main themes as illustrated in Figure 1.

Users and services
The project has undertaken extensive stakeholder engagement to profile potential users and their requirements. MARINERG-i will provide the services illustrated in Figure 2 to a range of potential stakeholders from testing end-user (academic and industry) and research infrastructures to national and EU policy makers and funding bodies.

Legal structure
Following analysis of the options, the consortium agreed that the most appropriate structure is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). This is a legal entity recognised in all EU Member States. Required legal documents including statues and an access agreement template have been drafted.

Financial and business plan
The MARINERG–i business plan (summarised in Figure 3) outlines the operational strategy of the DRI, describing the pathway to achieving financial stability. The successful development of the DRI will be realised through the delivery of research, infrastructure access and service provisions to a global marine engineering market.
Design plan
The DRI will comprise a central coordination hub, which is closely connected to a network of operational nodes located in other countries. The national nodes will act as hubs to coordinate local activities. The DRI will also foster smart specialisation with different nodes coordinating specific services (Figure 4). The network will be perceived externally as a single body, facilitated by a common online presence.
Stakeholder engagement
The project has undertaken stakeholder workshops within each partner country to disseminate information on the proposed RI; profile specifics of the various national ORE RI landscapes (players, facilities, institutional configuration); and confirm national support for the concept and the ESFRI 2021 application.
The MARINERG-i DRI will be an independent legal entity of distributed testing infrastructures, united to create an integrated centre for delivering ORE. It will be a long-term, sustainable partnership between the highest quality testing facilitates, providing a coordinated set of services that meet current and future end-user requirements. By consolidating expertise, investment and access to infrastructures, the MARINERG-i DRI will foster innovation across a variety of ORE technologies and stages of development. As the only integrated ORE platform of this scale worldwide, it will be the epicentre of this developing industry and ensure the EU’s continuing leadership of this sector.

The MARINERG-i DRI will provide added-value across the whole chain and multiple groups of stakeholders as illustrated in Figure 5. Additionally, national and international collaboration is needed to create the critical mass necessary to develop the ORE industry; particularly in terms of a bespoke and Pan-European supply-chain. This is a key objective of the European (EU) ocean energy research agenda, as it would reinforce EU jobs and leadership in this sector. A core requirement is an integrated strategic approach amongst testing facilities.
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