Making waves in offshore renewable energy production

23 April 2019

A team of University of Queensland researchers will join forces with 40 other organisations to form a new cooperative research centre (CRC), set to improve Australian seafood and offshore renewable energy production. 

The Blue Economy CRC is a $329 million research project, which will combine seafood, renewable energy and offshore engineering for the first time, underpinned by a $70 million cash investment from the Australian Federal Government.

Offshore Engineering Program Leader and UQ researcher Professor Chien Ming Wang said the funding would be delivered over 10 years to support innovative solutions and transform the way we utilised our oceans.

“Australia has some of the world’s best wind, wave and tidal resources, which have enormous potential to deliver energy to support offshore operations, such as fish farms, and exportable renewable energy,” Professor Wang said.

“Fish farm operators worldwide are moving their farms offshore to take advantage of larger sea space and better water quality to produce healthier fish for a better seafood industry.

“This funding allows us to take our research further and develop infrastructure that can withstand the offshore environment, are commercially viable and can deliver competitive energy solutions for offshore production systems.”

One of UQ’s key contributions will be to help develop fish cage designs for offshore fish farming.

UQ Centre for Policy Futures Senior Research Fellow Dr Pedro Fidelman and his colleagues will focus on policy options for safe, sustainable and appropriate development of the offshore activities.

“We will need to research, and together with relevant government, industry and community stakeholders, develop options to address policy and regulatory challenges that may arise from novel offshore activities,” Dr Fidelman said.

"The centre will include 50 postdoctoral fellowships, as well as 50 PhD scholarships spread across five different research areas."

The CRC five distinct research areas include offshore engineering and technology, seafood and marine products, marine renewable energy, environment and ecosystems, and governance, policy, business development and communication.

The project had support from research organisations and industry working together towards sustainable food and energy production solutions in the marine environment.

The Blue Economy CRC head office will be hosted at the University of Tasmania’s Launceston campus.