Arup takes part in two wave energy studies for Wave Energy Scotland

11 April 2017
Wave Energy Scotland has commissioned Arup to support two energy studies aimed at exploring the potential of new materials that could improve the efficiency of energy generation from tidal waves.
As the world moves towards more sustainable energy sources - in face of the considerable environmental, social and economic damage of continuing to leverage fossil fuels - a number of options are being explored and developed, including, among others, wind, photoelectronic effect (solar), and tidal and other forms of ocean energy. The latter forms of energy have considerable potential, with prelimionary studies finding that taping just 0.1% of the 0.1% of the energy in ocean waves could be capable of supplying the entire world's energy requirements five times over. Ocean technologies are in relatively different stages of development, with wave energy conversion devices relatively more mature than other technologies such as  heat transfer and leveraging differences in salinity, which are still in the research and development phase.
Even while wave energy technologies are more mature, with projects already being tested and developed, the harsh ocean conditions remain conducive to relatively cheap scalable solutions. One of the organisations working on the development of innovative solutions in the wave energy generation segment, particularly to the technical challenges faced from harsh conditions, is Wave Energy Scotland (WES). The organisation offers a range of support to organisations creating whole, or parts, of systems that are robust and cost effectively generate energy from waves. The organisation, which formed in 2014, is a subsidiary of Highlands and Islands Enterprise. As it stands the organisation has supported 54 organisations, paying out a total of £22.5 million.

Arup commissioned to lead and partake in wave energy conversion study

The announcement from WES sees Arup join forces with a number of organisations to run studies of two potential materials that could improve the robustness and cost effectiveness of wave generation devices.

The first study, which is led by the firm and being undertaken with Cruz Atcheson, Sea Power, Wello and British Precast, considers the potential for concrete to become the main structural material for wave energy conversion devices, with the consequence a potentially steep decline in the levelised cost of electricity from the technology.

The second study, in which the firm supports Cruz Atcheson, is focused on assessing the potential for reinforced polymers featuring as part of hybrid structure for the main energy conversion devices. The firms will, in particular, focus on the material as the structural material for prime mover of point absorbers, with Arup performing analysis of the design structures and design support for the hybrid designs.

The studies will leverage a previous study, the ‘Wave Energy Scotland’s Forces & Stresses Landscaping Study’, developed by Arup and Cruz Atcheson. Commenting on the new commissions, Jacob Ahlqvist, Project Manager at Arup, remarks, “We are focused on finding a step change solution for wave energy conversion devices to help wave power reach its potential both off the coast of Scotland and worldwide. In our work with Wave Energy Scotland we will be drawing on decades of experience designing offshore structures and working with a range of materials in harsh environments.”

Tim Hurst, Managing Director at Wave Energy Scotland, says, “Wave Energy Scotland is pleased that the programme will benefit from Arup’s considerable wealth of knowledge about structural materials and manufacturing processes. I am looking forward to hearing the conclusions from these studies and the materials’ applicability to wave energy converters.” 


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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.