A&P Falmouth

Published on: 23 April 2014

The partnership between A&P Falmouth and University of Exeter has improved business and supported novel research.

The University of Exeter and major ship repair and engineering services provider A&P Falmouth Ltd have created a mutually beneficial relationship that improves business, supports novel research, and promotes community growth. 

The collaborative efforts of the two organisations have seen numerous projects including one to test a revolutionary device that can generate renewable power from the movement of a ship.

This technology has wide-reaching applications, and with successful development could reduce the environmental impact of shipping while providing unique products for A&P Falmouth to install.  

Work on this project began in summer 2013 after A&P Falmouth, along with designer WITT Energy and Supacat, the University of Exeter and Plymouth University, was awarded a research grant by the Technology Strategy Board - the UK’s innovation agency that helps business develop new products and services.

Paul Weston, Renewable Energy Technical Manager at A&P Falmouth said: “Working with the University of Exeter has proved to be incredibly beneficial for A&P Falmouth. We have established ourselves as leaders in the marine renewables sector and hope to make this a permanent feature for the South West with continued collaboration with Exeter. We have enjoyed the work we have done with Exeter and look forward to developing many more exciting projects with the university.”

A&P Group Ltd operate from three strategic locations in the UK, two in the North East and one in Falmouth, Cornwall. It was from the University’s Penryn Campus that the partnership was launched with A&P Falmouth.

After an initial engagement in 2009, a synergy between A&P’s experience in marine engineering and the university’s research into marine renewable energy devices was identified. The collaboration began with the creation of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), a government funded project that unites business with the University’s expertise. 

The KTP came about in 2010 through the Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE) project initiative which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and saw the employment by A&P Falmouth of Exeter graduate, Amanda Pound, as a Marine Renewable Energy Manager.

This partnership bridged the waters between the university and industry, Amanda helped A&P to develop their renewables business and put Cornwall at the forefront of the marine renewable energy industry. With new insight, A&P Falmouth was able to strengthen their team, introducing the new role of Renewable Energy Technical Manager, and can now clearly identify what services they could offer developers at Wave Hub (a shared offshore infrastructure for the testing of new renewable energy devices).

The KTP helped to identify A&P’s role in the renewable energy market place, assisting in the discovery of A&P’s key role in the sector both within the shipyard and externally within the renewable energy community.

The completion of the KTP set the course for a journey full of exciting collaborations. A&P Falmouth continued to support a number of research activities within Exeter’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) group. The group is led by Professor Lars Johanning and has research expertise in resource assessment, offshore equipment reliability, marine operations and policy.

To establish themselves as world-leading researchers, the ORE group acquired state of the art research facilities and suitable bespoke infrastructure. The Dynamic Marine Component Test Facility, or DMaC, a large-scale component test rig is one of these facilities.

Located within the docks by A&P Falmouth, DMaC allows the testing of marine power cables, umbilicals and components to help identify early faults in equipment and allow improvements to be made before deployment or manufacture. This research is vitally important for the marine renewable energy sector as it can reduce the chance of equipment breakage and prevent loss of service.

Following on the from the development of the DMaC facility, the Falmouth Bay Test (FaBTest) site was developed to provide wave energy developers a low risk and low cost site to test new marine renewable energy devices, with operational support from the University’s ORE group.

This facility is supported by the Regional Growth Fund, a government scheme that supports projects that create economic growth and sustainable employment in the local area, and provides A&P Falmouth’s renewable customers the potential to construct, deploy and service renewable energy devices in one convenient location.

FABTest was developed by the University along with Falmouth Harbour Commissioners in discussion with a number of businesses in the local supply chain including A&P Falmouth and Mojo Maritime.

The first device to be installed at the FaBTest site was Fred. Olsen Ltd’s ‘Lifesaver’, a device that captures wave energy and converts it to electricity energy. Fred. Olsen Ltd was attracted to the FaBTest site by the added value that detailed scientific testing could offer to the development of their device.  

This generated extra business for A&P Falmouth, who carried out the manufacture and steel fabrication of the device, an opportunity that would not have been possible without Exeter’s research presence in Cornwall. A&P is now the leading renewable Fabricator and Engineering Services provider in the South West and is working with several device developers both in the UK and Overseas. This includes Seatricity Ltd who have moved to Cornwall to develop and build their first full scale device, Oceanus 2, with A&P and which will go onto Wave Hub this year.

The team at the University of Exeter continue to work on improving environmental monitoring at the site; this includes implementing systems to provide real-time measurements of waves, currents, and winds.

Research staff such as Dr Ian Ashton are conducting data analysis and interpretation of environmental and metocean data gathered at FaBTest. This work support marine renewable device developers working at the site by bringing additional benefit to their test regimes. This support is critical in further encouraging use of the test site and generating further business for A&P Falmouth.

FaBTest also provides a unique research site for a number of Exeter academics to conduct experiments. PhD student Joanne Garrett is examining the impact of noise from a wave energy converter on marine animals at the site. Her work is important in gaining public acceptance of renewable energy devices, whilst ensuring they have few negative effects on our environment.

With hopes to increase the number of devices tested at the FaBTest and Wave Hub sites and the number of developers using the DMaC facility. Both A&P and  Exeter’s ORE group aim to build further collaboration to continue to support the UK’s marine renewable sector.

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