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Lord Fox and Prof Thies in the Science and Engineering Research Support Facility in front of Tremough House, Penryn Campus.

Peer visits University of Exeter to see state-of-the-art Offshore Energy Research

The Royal Society’s annual Pairing Scheme brings together scientists and policymakers to let research inform policy-making and policy questions shape the research.

Lord Fox, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Business and Industrial Strategy and member of the Economic Affairs Committee is paired with Prof Philipp Thies, Associate Professor in Renewable Energy with a research focus on Offshore Energy and Reliability.

The University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus welcomed Lord Fox for a recent visit, where discussions were held about the opportunities, benefits and challenges for offshore energy generation. The Renewable Energy group is carrying out a range of research projects, including Floating offshore wind, Tidal Energy and offshore component testing.

Lord Fox was introduced to the research teams, offering ample opportunity to discuss the research contributions to the UK’s efforts to cut carbon emissions. The business support and interaction was highlighted as one of the core strengths, delivering tangible research benefits in collaboration with industry partner.

The MEng Renewable Energy students also had an opportunity to discuss the challenges of decarbonisation. Presenting their findings following a week-long study field trip to Islay in Scotland, the challenges regarding domestic heating and required grid infrastructure to enable offshore energy in rural areas became evident. Government policies and strategies regarding incentives and investment were considered as possible solutions.

Lord Fox said: “The UK is facing a massive energy challenge that combined with the net zero goals means that the country needs the ingenuity and innovation that the teams I saw in Falmouth provide.

"I was impressed by the depth and breadth of the work carried out by the teams I met. Professor Thies proved an excellent host and the scheme overall has been very helpful to me and my work.”

Prof Thies said: “This Royal Society scheme was an excellent experience. Lord Fox took the time to engage with my research team, discussed ongoing policy considerations with students and welcomed my views to enable investment in Offshore Energy.

"It will allow me to condense research findings to contribute to the parliamentary committee and evidence process in the future. "

Prof Johanning, Deputy Head of Engineering added: "Floating Offshore Wind in the Celtic Sea is a huge opportunity for the South West.

"Already we are seeing many innovative businesses gearing up to take advantage of the growth potential and the University of Exeter is supporting many of these businesses on their RD&I journey, accelerating the development of their innovation.

"The visit from Lord Fox was a useful opportunity to inform about opportunities and challenges on the role of 2.5GW of FLOW in the Celtic Sea. "

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society: said: “The collaboration between scientists and policymakers is essential if we are to tackle the pressing issues of our time, from climate change to the emergence of new infectious diseases.

“By bringing these groups together and providing them with a glimpse into each-other’s worlds, we can build relationships and skills, and hopefully aid important decision making.”

Date: 25 May 2022

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