Andrew Jenkins | Kinewell Energy
Bringing more renewable energy ashore
Offshore wind farms must harness energy and transport it to the mainland efficiently to justify their huge set-up costs and compete with conventional power generation. Yet planning how to configure every component to best effect is complex and costly.
Entrepreneurial engineer Andrew Jenkins has developed a business solution that promises to save developers time and money and conserve energy. On land, the electrical Grid needs to become smarter too – the topic of Andrew’s PhD research.
“The hardest part about YES was that the idea wasn't real. You could claim anything. Once we had our idea, business planning practice was useful.”
After his engineering degree in new and renewable energy at Durham University, Andrew spent three years with a multinational consultancy and developed a business idea in his spare time.
When his electrical engineering supervisor from Durham moved to Newcastle University, Andrew joined the research group. “Traditionally, we’ve had a few very large centralised power stations that supply power by matching demand across the UK,” says Andrew.
“With a move towards intermittent renewables located closer to the load, we’re starting to need more localised balancing of supply and demand, utilising flexible loads and energy storage.” So researchers like Andrew are developing control algorithms for flexible loads, such as electric vehicles, to create new ‘smart micro-grids’. His consultancy finds efficiencies out at sea.
Intelligent planning and design
For several years Andrew has continued to develop his own business idea. Environment YES in 2014 showed him “your product doesn’t have to be perfect, just better than what’s there at the moment.” It also taught him about pricing services and how VC investors calculate equity valuations.
Kinewell Energy’s service uses clever software Andrew developed to design geographical electrical connections between offshore wind turbines using less cable, with reduced electrical loss. “I’ve created software to do design work better and faster than humans. It takes into account the cost of cable, electrical losses during operation, sea bed conditions and no-go areas – too many variables for a human to visualise.”
At sea, many wind turbines each separated by around 1km connect in strings to an offshore substation, which collects power before sending it to shore. This can require several hundred kilometres of cable. If you connect turbines more effectively using less cable and reducing energy loss, you save a lot of money.
In 2016, the software was Highly Commended at the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s annual international innovation awards, in two categories; Power Engineering and Model-Based Engineering.
Visit Kinewell Energy
Kinewell Energy was incorporated in 2013. After 2 years of R&D, including redeveloping his software so it’s 310,000 times faster and returns substantially superior design quality, Andrew has launched the service for clients.
Big potential savings
Reduction in electrical loss
Undersea cable costs upwards of £600 per metre. If developers connect turbines up using less cable, they could save between £100m and £1bn for the sector.
If the software was used for all future UK offshore wind farms,
an extra 70 GWh of electrical energy would reach the UK each year. That would negate around 27,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually whilst powering about 16,000 homes.