University of Highlands and Islands - Energy

Website: University of Highlands and Islands

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Founded in 1992 and based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, our distinctive partnership of 13 independent colleges and research institutions is locally based and rooted in communities, but with national and international reach, as part of a regional university structure. The university sits within potentially the most diverse area as regards energy opportunities in the world and as such is ideally placed to be working in all energy sectors.

Capability Statement

Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI offers research in:


  • Hydrodynamic modelling
  • Resource mapping
  • Energy shadows
  • Turbulent mixing

Wildlife Displacement

  • Interference with habitat use & movements Surveys
  • passive acoustics

Collision Risks

  • Mammals. Fish, and Birds
  • Modelling Behaviour
  • Encounter Rate
  • Evasion

Device acoustic Footprints

  • Device & background: prediction, measurement & mitigation
  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Relocation of fisheries
  • Recreation

User displacement

Artificial structures

  • Artificial Reefs
  • Colonisation
  • Invasive Species (staging posts)
  • Fisheries enhancement

Habitat Modification

  • Sediment Redistribution
  • Burying

Biofouling and loading

Lews Castle College UHI offers research in:

  • Wave energy resource assessment
  • Wave forecasting
  • Coastal Processes
  • Data acquisition skills
  • Sensor Configuration and Deployment
  • Electrical Grid Integration
  • Local Energy Storage / Hydrogen solutions
  • Wind - wave energy correlation
  • Mapping environmental constraints and opportunities

Environmental Research Institute UHI offers research in:

Assessing the energy resource:

  • spatial and temporal variability
  • developer-relevant scales

Understanding risk

  • Characterising unfavourable & destructive conditions
  • Migratory fish

- turbulence

- sheared velocity profiles

- eddies

- large, steep waves

- standing waves

Environmental & Ecological Interaction

  • Modelling, monitoring & tracking
  • Abundance, residence patterns, behavior
  • Pentland Salmon Initiative
  • Diving seabirds
  • Environmental impact assessment services
  • Marine mammal and underwater noise surveys
  • Benthic and intertidal surveys
  • Natural and commercial fish surveys
  • Sediment and water quality sampling
  • Seafloor mapping
  • Metocean surveys
  • Consenting support services
  • Post-consent monitoring
  • Vessel and equipment hire
  • Platform: Academic, stakeholders, developers etc.
  • Ethos: Collaborative, independent, multi-disciplinary
  • Aim: Science to inform managers, stakeholders, planners etc.

-Tracking behavior and use of habitats e.g. black guillemots & great skuas


- renewables = 100% electricity by 2020

- characterising intermittency + variability in renewable generation

Marine Renewable Consultancy

Using cutting-edge science to enable the sustainable development of marine renewable energy generation in Scotland, including:

Complex Management Systems

Taking a technology or product to market or into service requires careful planning and execution. This is especially true for complex systems involving, for example, multiple or distributed constituent technologies.

With significant experience in the aerospace, transport and energy sectors the Centre for Advanced Engineering at the University of the Highlands and Islands is comfortable in managing and optimising multi-disciplinary projects. By applying the principles of lifecycle management the full progression of a technology or product can be carefully established from positioning through definition, development, planning and trial, to delivery, operation and disposal. The process can be applied to any complex system, such as a distributed energy generation and distribution network, enabling the designer to optimise a solution against one or more measurements of performance (including cost and efficiency) and within multiple constraints (including space, legislation, safety, etc.)

The team is familiar with industry-standard project management and engineering design tools and how they can be tailored appropriately for every size of project.

An example of the specific tools used within this broader process is multi-disciplinary optimisation. The most important phase of any technology project is requirements capture, and the translation of those requirements into a solution. The early, conceptual design process is determined by the size of the design ‘space’ and this can be large for complex, multi- disciplinary or distributed systems, such as an energy generation and distribution network.

Automatic optimisation tools can help narrow that design space down to manageable proportions by evaluating the sensitivity of the system to various factors, thereby identifying those which drive the design, helping to define the optimum combination within the prevailing constraints.

Development Activities

MERIKA (Marine Energy Research Innovation and Knowledge Accelerator) - is an ambitious initiative by UHI , funded by the European Union FP7 (REGPOT) programme. The project seeks to establish a marine energy research and innovation hub in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Alongside seven European scientific institutions and with the cooperation of three UHI partners (SAMS, ERI, LCC), MERIKA will focus on building research capacity, upgrading infrastructure, and reinforcing international collaboration with stakeholders from across the marine energy sector.

SMED (Shetland Marine Energy Development) — Project using the Shetland Marine Spatial Plan to identify suitable sites for marine renewable energy projects in the islands.

AMRECS (Advancing Marine Renewable Energy Research Capacity in Scotland) — SRDG grant funded programme to develop a centre of excellence for marine renewable energy research.

Supergen (Marine Energy Consortium) — Part of phase2 Supergen to increase knowledge and understanding of device-sea interactions of energy converters from model scale in the laboratory to full size in the open sea.

MaREE (Marine Renewable Energy and the Environment) — A project undertaken by ERI and SAMS focussed on environmental issues surrounding the development of marine renewable energy and the socio-economic impacts of such technologies.

MREDS (Marine Renewable Energy Development in Scotland) — Established as a research engagement and co-operation vehicle for a range of stakeholders in scottish marine renewable energy. The programme is led by Heriot Watt ICIT and includes academic research groups, business and economic development interests such as HIE and OIC

Equimar — Equitable testing and evaluation of marine energy extraction devices in terms of Performance, Cost and Environmental Impacts

Marine Scotland Research — Commissioned research projects on the environmental impacts of marine energy technologies.

MASTS (The Marine Alliance for Science & Technology for Scotland) - pools the research talent in marine science from across Scotland.

INIS Hydro project: surveying areas across the Irish sea with SAMS using their survey vessel R.V. Calanus to survey a large area of the Firth of Lorne.The other area being surveyed as part of this project are; the SW Islay Renewables area n Argyll, Scotland; Dundalk Bay (shallow and deep) in the Republic of Ireland; Carlingford Lough and Approaches – with its north coast in Northern Ireland and its south coast in the Republic;Dundrum Bay in Northern Irealnd;Parts of the coast off the Mourne mountains in Northern Ireland.

HebMarine (Hebridean Marine Energy Futures)

Incorporating LCC, ERI and SAMS with a number of industry partners - most notably Aquamarine and Wavegen - a consortium ofvarious marine operators and wave technology developers assessing the wave resource to the west of Lewis.

OCTES (Opportunities for Community groups Through Energy Storage) — Lead by Lews Castle College this initiative aimed to increase the viability of renewable energy solutions in rural regions by influencing consumer behaviour.

BioMara — A project investigating sustainable fuels from Marine Biomass; the potential use of both macroalgae and microalgae as alternatives to terrestrial agri-fuel production.

SUSPLAN (PLANning for SUStainability) — SUSPLAN will focus on developing regional and pan-european strategies, recommendations, and benchmarks for the integration of renewable energy sources (RES) into future european infrastructures by 2030-2050.

SMALLEST — an NPP programme to help make renewable energy more accessible to the smallest communities in the most remote areas of Northern Europe

Quality Rating

Each university unit is rated in terms of quality, this table shows the percentage of each quality classification given for this unit ranging from 4* (best rating) to N/C (unclassified).

Ratings Key

  • 4* - Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • 3* - Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which nonetheless falls short of the highest standards of excellence.
  • 2* - Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • 1* - Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • N/C - Unclassified.

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