A short introduction
What if we could build a Belgian academic offshore wind network for young researchers, as a launchpad for academic excellence, industrial interaction and international outreach?
That was the ideation spark for the PhairywinD project. We consulted our network in late 2018, both academic and industrial, and quickly realized this idea was relevant, necessary and timely.
Hence we combined our existing networks, the blueprint for European training networks and our experience with community & cluster building. Luckily, the Belgian Energy Transition Fund (FPS Economy) had an appetite for our idea and funded the PhairywinD project.
Within the Belgian context, 2.2 GW was deployed from 2008 until 2020. However, a 2nd big zone was foreseen in the new Marine Spatial Plan, covering the Fairybank, Noordhinder Zuid & Noordhinder North. This zone is expected to be developed, depending on the auctioning-tendering procedure and onshore grid reinforcements, from 2024 onwards. The Phairywind project sits exactly in the middle of these 2 big waves of Belgian Offshore Wind development.
However, offshore wind knows little boundaries. The European Offshore Wind industry is scaling up fast and is becoming mature, with 22 GW installed in 2020, and an expected ramping up of the installation rate of 5 GW/year by 25, 8 by 2025 and 14 by 2030, to realize the sector ambitious target of 450 GW by 2050, effectively providing an outlook to make Europe’s energy supply greenhouse gas emissions neutral.
Later in 2019, the European Commission announced the EU Green Deal, whereby offshore wind was the sole technology to be mentioned by name. We believe the PhairywinD project will be an important network for further collaboration within these European ambitions.
Why this project?
Offshore wind: the best is yet to come
People, Passion, Purpose & PhDs
"No man is an island entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main" (John Donne, 1624)
We all share the passion for offshore wind. We believe it has a huge potential to provide clean, secure and reliable energy and will be a key pivotal technology in the energy transition. One deliberate choice we made early on, was to have a multi-disciplinary approach for collaboration amongst the universities. We cover a diverse range of topics, ranging from aerodynamics, data science, law and beyond. All of the 9 PhDs are co-promoted by an second university and industrial secondments are planned.
Hence our baseline:
The offshore wind beneath the wings of young researchers,
turning the blades of the Belgian offshore wind sector
These young researchers will have a strong network, within and beyond there domain of expertise, and will be ambassadors for offshore wind research within and outside there universities.
The ultimate purpose of the PhairywinD is indeed to lay a foundation basis for long-term future Offshore Wind collaboration between Belgian & European academia, industry, government & the civil society
What's in a name?
* Fun Fairy fact: the name “Fairy Bank” was given in 1836 by William Hewett, captain of the HMS Fairy. The HMS Fairy was a three-master and the sibling of the HMS Beagle, the ship used by Darwin for his research at the Galapagos archipelago.