Submission from the Engineering and Physical
Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
1. The Engineering and Physical Sciences
Research Council (EPSRC) is responsible for promoting and supporting
basic, strategic and applied research within its remit for the
benefit of the UK. The EPSRC mission is:
to promote and support, by any means,
high quality basic, strategic and applied research and related
postgraduate training in engineering and the physical sciences;
to advance knowledge and technology,
and provide trained engineers and scientists, to meet the needs
of users and beneficiaries thereby contributing to the economic
competitiveness of the United Kingdom and the quality of life
of its citizens; and
to provide advice, disseminate knowledge,
and promote public understanding in the fields of engineering
and the physical sciences.
2. The EPSRC currently invests around £650
million a year in the science base for research and training in
engineering and physical sciences with a view to ensuring that
the UK will be prepared for the next generation of technological
3. The EPSRC welcomes the opportunity to
respond to this Inquiry. Further details on EPSRC activities are
available at www.epsrc.ac.uk.
UK MARINE SCIENCE
EPSRC research funding
4. EPSRC supports marine science where there
is a strong engineering or physical science element. EPSRC also
supports coastal marine research and some areas of underpinning
physical science of relevance to marine science. The following
research areas are covered in this memorandum:
Coastal and waterway engineering:
research on coastal and waterway structures, coastal and waterway
management, coastal defences (both "soft" and "hard"
defences), beach replenishment, estuarine engineering, reservoir
and dam engineering and hydrodynamics (including action of currents
and waves, sediment transport, mixing processes, and coastal,
estuarine and river dynamics and offshore hydrodynamics).
Fluid dynamics: involves the study
of fluids (solid, liquid or gas) moving around structures. It
includes techniques covering computational fluid dynamics (CFD),
finite element analysis. This is relevant for the study of water
flow around marine structures.
Marine engineering: involves the
interaction between the oceans and marine structures, both mechanical
effects and hydrodynamic interactions. Also includes the design
of Marine craft and structures.
Marine Energy: involves the research
of wave and tidal energy systems. Most work in this area is done
by the Supergen Marine Energy Consortium.
5. Due to the nature of marine science,
much of the research EPSRC supports interfaces with the remit
of other research councils, such as the Tyndall Centre for Climate
Change Research (EPSRC, NERC and ESRC) and the UK Energy Research
Centre (EPSRC, NERC and ESRC). It should be noted that the aforementioned
programmes have some marine science but are mainly focused at
broader environmental and related issues. Please also note that
NERC is submitting its own evidence to this inquiry.
6. The main funding mechanism for marine-related
research is responsive mode, which allows novel, blue skies research
ideas to be submitted by researchers on any research area within
EPSRC's remit for peer review. Applications are judged in competition
on the basis of scientific excellence, independently refereed
by experts nominated by the applicants and by EPSRC.
7. Some marine research is also funded through
managed activities which are usually specific to key technology
themes, such as the Sustainable Power Generation and Supply Programme.
EPSRC also supports the Flood Risk Management Research Consortium
(FRMRC www.floodrisk.org.uk), which includes research into coastal
defences and flooding.
Current EPSRC marine science research spend
for financial years 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09:
|FinancialYear||Total annual marine
Please note that the above list is for current grants only.
Grants to be announced and planned future activities are not included.
UK INTERNATIONALLY, AND
8. International collaboration is taking place in most
of the large research projects in this area. The Tyndall Centre
specifically seeks to inform international climate change policy.
The Marine Supergen consortium also has close links with Eire,
France and the Netherlands within the EU, as well Japan and the
US. It is currently making links with China. UKERC has strong
international links and represents UK energy, including marine
energy, at such organisations as the OECD. EPSRC has also recently
provided assistance to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Global
Opportunities Fund under their Flooding and Coastal Defences call.
9. The current total spend value of the EPSRC portfolio
in marine science for this financial year and the next is shown
above. Current project commitment is £12.6 million, £3.3
million commitment for coastal engineering and £9.3 million
commitment for marine engineering. Most of this support is made
through the responsive mode, However, £2.6 million is directed
through the Supergen Marine Energy Consortium which is part of
a directed call for renewable energy generation research.
Please note the total funding does not include the £2
million contribution that EPSRC makes to the Tyndall Centre, as
only part of this funding goes to marine science activities.
10. EPSRC has recognised the importance of marine energy
research and has proposed that marine renewable energy be nominated
as a subject for a Science and Innovation Award in the next call.
The purpose of Science and Innovation Awards is to secure strategically
important research areas that require capacity building in the
UK. They are large, long-term grants (typically £3-5 million
over five years) supporting staff in a research group, with commitment
from the host Higher Education Institution(s) to continue support
after the end of the grant.
11. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is
funded by NERC, EPSRC and ESRC. The Centre's total budget for
the second phase of funding is £5.677 million over three
years. The Centre's purpose is to research, assess and communicate
from a distinct trans-disciplinary perspective, the options to
mitigate, and the necessities to adapt to, climate change, and
to integrate these into the global, UK and local contexts of sustainable
development. Tyndall's Sustainable Coast Programme addresses the
vulnerability of the coastal regions to increased sea levels,
changing storms and other climate changes by developing integrated
methods for analysing adaptation options for the sustainable governance
of coastlines. The total expenditure in this theme is expected
to be in the region of £613k over the life of the current
funding phase. More information on the Tyndall Centre can be found
on their website, http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/index.shtml. Specific
information on the Sustainable Coasts Programme can be found here:
Supergen Marine Energy consortium
12. The major EPSRC activity in marine energy is the
Sustainable Power Generation and Supply Marine Energy research
consortium. Information on the specific activities can be found
on their website www.supergen-marine.org.uk. The Marine Energy
Consortium is a £2.6 million (commitment) project headed
by Professor Robin Wallace at the University of Edinburgh and
involves Heriot-Watt University, Lancaster University, Robert
Gordon University and the University of Strathclyde. It is closely
collaborating with 27 energy companies, including large companies
such as Siemens, QinetiQ, and Scottish and Southern power, as
well as many small renewable energy companies.
13. The Marine Energy Consortium funding has recently
been renewed and will bring the Queen's University Belfast into
the consortium. Funding will increase to £5.5 million (commitment)
for the next phase of work that will run from the 1 October 2007
to the 31 September 2011. The programme includes work on: device
arrays and how these will influence local and regional environmental
conditions; radical design approaches, which take into account
new philosophies of design guidance; ensuring that numerical and
physical design support is consistent and robust; the challenges
posed by design in mixed tidal and wave environments; system control
in complex non linear and evolving environments; the complex challenges
posed by fixing, mooring and recovery of marine systems; the economic
challenges posed by the variable and intermittent nature of the
marine resource; the sparse information available to predict and
assess the long term reliability of marine energy systems and
how an increased understanding of all of these issues can be best
disseminated within the stakeholder community.
14. The UK Energy Research Centre is supported by EPSRC,
ESRC and NERC. It was set up in 2004 to be a centre of research,
and source of authoritative information and leadership, on sustainable
energy systems. UKERC organises its networking and research activity
under six related themes:
Future Sources of Energy.
Energy Infrastructure and Supply.
Energy Systems and Modelling.
Materials for Advanced Energy Systems.
And four functions:
Technology and Policy Assessment.
UK RESEARCH AND
Marine research in UK universities
15. The main universities with strength in marine engineering
are the University of Strathclyde, the University of Edinburgh,
Southampton University, the University of Newcastle and Imperial
College London. Many other UK universities have capability in
this area also. It should be noted that most of the universities
strong in marine engineering are in the traditional shipbuilding
cities. Many of these have transferred their skill to serve the
offshore oil industry. Additionally many of these universities
have now acquired capability in marine energy generation research.
16. As with many scientific disciplines the supply of
undergraduates in this area is of general concern. Undergraduate
courses are of course outside the remit of EPSRC. However it does
impact on the provision of suitable candidates for the post graduate
research and training, which is our remit. Marine research capacity
related to energy is a specific concern to EPSRChence its
consideration for inclusion in the next round of S&I awards.
Links to other relevant UK groups
17. EPSRC is represented on both the Aerodynamics National
Advisory Committee (ANAC) and the Hydrodynamics National Advisory
Committee (HNAC) that reports to the ANAC. The HNAC is undertaking
a roadmapping exercise into marine engineering capabilities in
the UK. The HNAC has input into the DTI marine sector technology
plan that can be seen on the link below.
18. EPSRC-supported research would not ordinarily involve
the use of SSSIs. The academic study of these areas would fall
mainly under the BBSRC or NERC remit.