DONG Energy to support PhD research at Durham University to help increase wind turbine efficiency

DONG Energy is continuing its long-standing relationship with Durham University by supporting two PhD research studentships through the Durham Energy Institute (DEI).
PhD students at the Durham Energy Institute (DEI)

DONG Energy has funded the Chair in Renewable Energy position at DEI and endowed three MSc scholarships for Durham University students each year since 2011. DONG Energy will now support two PhDs as well, which will focus on the operation of wind turbines and helping to predict technical faults before they happen.

Benj Sykes, DONG Energy's UK Country Manager, said:

"DONG Energy is committed to investing in the UK and we're delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Durham Energy Institute through these two PhDs, alongside our existing sponsorship of Masters students and wider support.

"We're passionate about supporting skills, education and the future of the offshore wind industry in the UK, and this important research into the operation of wind turbines could prove hugely significant in the future."

Simon Hogg, DONG Energy Professor in Renewable Energy at Durham University, said:

"Durham Energy Institute believes that addressing energy challenges collaboratively through strong partnerships with industry ensures exciting research initiatives with real world applications that achieve maximum impact in the energy sector.

"Our work with DONG Energy and these new joint PhDs are the perfect exemplar of this approach in action. We believe the research undertaken will help to make the UK wind sector even more economically competitive and a reliable part of the UK and European energy mix moving forward. This research will add to the range of exciting collaborative initiatives we are engaging in with DONG Energy, which are helping to make the UK the world leader in offshore wind energy research and installed capacity."

The two PhD research programmes are a direct outcome of a secondment by Durham University Assistant Professor Dr Peter Matthews to DONG Energy in Denmark, which revealed that wind turbine maintenance logs represent a rich source of data that would support significant advances in machine learning for improving wind turbine operational efficiency and availability.

The PhDs will bring together turbine maintenance data and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) data, with a view to developing algorithms for predicting turbine malfunction. One student (Roger Cox) will focus on developing a method for analysing and categorising relevant maintenance issues from the maintenance database. This will feed into the work of the second student (Luke Payne), who will focus on developing advanced data methods to positively identify turbines that are developing faults before they become critical and require the turbine to be taken off line.

This research could prove vital in improving the availability of offshore wind turbines, ultimately helping to further drive down the cost of energy.

The PhD research The PhDs will be supervised by Dr Peter Matthews and Dr Christopher Crabtree from Engineering at Durham University, and will be undertaken both in Durham and on site at DONG Energy's offices. By including the students as part of the DONG Energy team, they will be able to rapidly gain deep understanding of the company's key challenges and priorities. This will ensure that research remains highly relevant to DONG Energy, as well as enabling knowledge transfer between DONG Energy and Durham University.

Roger Cox is an experienced mechanical engineer who has worked on a number of renewable energy projects, while Luke Payne is a trained mathematician who has been involved with various data driven wind energy problems.

The research is expected to be completed in December 2020 and DONG Energy is funding 66% of the two PhDs, with the remaining 34% funded by Durham University.


Notes to editors:

Durham Energy Institute has had a strong partnership with DONG Energy since 2008 and we have worked in close collaboration on a number of projects which have included multiple MSc and PhD projects.

The DONG Energy Chair in Renewable Energy supports and encourages work in all aspects of renewable energy, from ground engineering of monopile foundations to advanced data analysis from wind turbine sensor instruments. The Chair carries out both research and teaching to contribute to establishing, strengthening and maintaining technical collaboration between DONG Energy, its own researchers and those in other groups and universities.

Last week it was announced that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will support a new offshore wind partnership, including DONG Energy and Durham University, with £3.2 million. More information here.

About Durham Energy Institute (DEI):

DEI forms part of Durham University, supporting and producing cutting-edge energy research which draws on the expertise of world-leading researchers across departments in Science, Social Science and Humanities. DEI was born in 2009 out of the realisation that energy challenges cross conventional discipline boundaries and that new ways of thinking about and conducting energy research are required. By unlocking research synergies between different disciplines and sectors, DEI aims to produce major breakthroughs in our understanding of how to best meet the energy demands of the future. We emphasise a 'Science and Society' approach to energy which tackles the societal aspects of energy technology as well as developing new energy technologies and solutions for the benefit of society. We have a range of expertise in energy technologies such as whole energy systems, renewables generation (wind, solar, geothermal, bio-fuels) and integration, transmission and distribution, smart energy systems, carbon capture and storage, geo-energy and hydrocarbons, and energy materials. Durham University is a UK leader in Wind Energy research with a key focus on condition monitoring and reliability analysis work. The University led the first 2 phases of the prestigious EPSRC Supergen Wind programme between 2006 and 2014 and has been a leading executive board member of the current EPSRC Supergen Wind Hub formed in 2014. This consortium work has helped the UK to become a leader in academic research within the Wind Energy sector.

For further information, see or follow us @DEI_Durham on Twitter.

About DONG Energy:
DONG Energy (NASDAQ OMX: DENERG) is one of the leading energy groups in Northern Europe, headquartered in Denmark. Around 6,700 ambitious employees, including over 850 in the UK, are engaged in developing, constructing and operating offshore wind farms; generating power and heat from our power stations; providing energy to residential and business customers on a daily basis; and producing oil and gas. Group revenue was DKK 71bn (EUR 9.5bn) in 2015. For further information, see or follow us @DONGEnergyUK on Twitter.