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Winds of change: UCC conference to host world energy experts

The Wind Energy Science Conference (WESC) at UCC will bring up to 900 delegates to Cork.
The Wind Energy Science Conference (WESC) at UCC will bring up to 900 delegates to Cork.

Estimated to be worth €1.4 million to the local economy, WESC will bring up to 900 of the world’s leading wind energy scientists and engineers from more than 38 countries to Cork from June 17 to 20.

Organised on behalf of the European Academy of Wind Energy (EAWE) in association with MaREI, the SFI marine and renewable energy research, development and innovation Centre, it will be the scientific conference ever to be held in Cork, with 700 talks across eight themes.

The event is chaired by Dr Cian Desmond, a Research Fellow in UCC, who won the event for Cork following a competitive bidding process between Europe’s top research institutions. The event is expected to attract more than double the number of delegates than previous years, with the groundbreaking research at UCC and Ireland as a destination proving a major draw.

Dr Desmond, whose current research at the SFI MaREI Centre focuses on the design and testing of floating wind turbines, says that “the aim of the conference is to create a multidisciplinary open forum for discussion where scientists and engineers can explore the latest developments in wind energy science, spot emerging trends and identify future collaborators.

“Whilst wind energy is a mature technology, there are a number of complex open research questions. To provide innovative solutions we need to start conversations between diverse scientific groups and forge new collaborative research relationships”.

A symposium dedicated to Floating Wind Energy hosted by Professor James Manwell of the University of Massachusetts will bring researchers together from China, Germany and the US to discuss how to accelerate the uptake of floating technologies, risk mitigation and other pressing topics.

According to Dr Jimmy Murphy, lead of the Offshore Renewable Energy Group in MaREI, the development of floating wind turbines promises to be “the next big thing” in renewable energy generation, due to the potential for mass production and lower environmental impact compared to bottom-fixed offshore wind turbines.

Other highlights will include a demonstration of a commercial floating wind energy platform, which is currently being tested at the Lir National Ocean Test Facility and a discussion with EirGrid, Ireland’s electricity power grid provider, on the challenges faced by grid operators when there is a high percentage of wind energy on the system.
Dr Roland Schmehl of TU Delft will lead discussions focused on airborne wind energy systems, a potentially game-changing technology, which will allow wind energy to be generated by drones and kites flying at high altitudes.

Another session will explore the latest findings from EirWind, an SFI-funded project in MaREI examining the opportunities for and barriers to the development of offshore wind in Ireland.

Delegates will be encouraged to explore the best of Cork’s food, music, sport and culture, with trips planned to attractions including Spike Island, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork City Goal and a banquet dinner in the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs.

Evelyn O’Sullivan, manager of Cork Convention Bureau said: “WESC will be the largest association conference to be held here bringing a lot to the local economy based on the value of each international delegate being €1600”.

For more information or to register: