MARLIN STAR project spearheads development of innovative floating renewable energy platform

Published 28 May 2020

A new project set to revolutionise local renewable energy generation, storage and use has been launched, led by Plymouth-based technology developer Frontier Technical Ltd.

The £1.4million MARLIN STAR project, funded by the Energy Catalyst programme, will progress the development and commercialisation of an innovative modular, floating renewable energy platform that will enable coastal community access to stored and transferable clean energy.

A UK-based consortium, led by Frontier Technical, will deliver the project, which has huge export potential to countries where remote off-grid coastal communities can benefit directly from local offshore renewable energy generation.

The platform will be capable of hosting a wind turbine with capacity up to 2MW, as well as onboard energy storage and transfer capabilities. Its controllable float modules fit into standard ISO shipping containers and assembly completed underwater without the need for large port infrastructure or heavy floating crane vessels.

The MARLIN modular floating platform is the patented invention of engineer Trevor Hardcastle. He said:

“Our intention is for the configurable MARLIN floating platform to be a UK innovation success story. We will apply UK research, technology and manufacturing expertise and export to countries in need of replacing fossil fuels and wood burning with cost-effective sustainable renewable energy that can be operated and maintained locally.’’

“I’m excited to see the Frontier Technical vision starting to take shape and look forward to working with our partners in the project”

The UK consortium partners include the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, which will undertake market analysis and the mechanical testing, assembly and initial demonstration of the floating platform. Durham University’s Energy Institute (DEI) will carry out sociotechnical research in island communities in Bangladesh and India. Engineering services firm Francis Brown Ltd will progress offshore fabrication and Tension Technology International will be working on an innovative synthetic mooring and anchoring system, with Plymouth Marine Laboratory deploying and testing the platform offshore. The consortium will also be joined by India-based The Energy and Resources Institute, providing social science research in coastal communities in Gujarat state in India.

Stephen Robertson, ORE Catapult’s Head of Business Development, said:

“The MARLIN STAR project is a great example of UK ingenuity and collaboration, with huge potential as a floating wind solution for powering off-grid coastal communities. We are extremely pleased to be part of a consortium responding to the call of an international innovation challenge, especially as it reinforces the UK’s strengths in offshore renewable energy”














Notes to Editors

About the Energy Catalyst Round 7 Programme

The Energy Catalyst project is a result of up to £32 million of investment from Innovate UK (part of UK Research and Innovation), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID). This is in innovation projects as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and Transforming Energy Access (TEA) programme. The aim of this competition is to support highly innovative, market-focused energy solutions in any technology or sector. Projects must encourage the development of products and services that help countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or both regions access secure, low cost and low carbon energy.

About Frontier Technical Limited

Frontier Technical has a focus on the commercialisation of the patented ‘MARLIN Modular Floating Platform’ technology, a ‘Subsea Tug’ for underwater construction, and an ‘Energy Transfer Shuttle’. The technology will provide a commercially viable offshore wind energy solution for deeper waters. The disruptive and enabling innovation will accelerate the build-out of floating offshore wind and provide ‘Global Energy Access for Coastal Communities’ including Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). The main innovation is based on subsea construction under controlled buoyancy conditions entirely eliminating the need for large marine construction yards and heavy lift crane vessels. Frontier Technical works collaboratively with industrial, academic and public body organisations to develop innovative solutions that will contribute to addressing several of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Frontier Technical has been trading since September 2015 providing collaborative research and development project monitoring contract services to Innovate UK the UK Government Innovation Agency.

About the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult

ORE Catapult was established in 2013 by the UK Government and is one of a network of Catapults set up by Innovate UK in high growth industries. It is the UK’s leading innovation centre for offshore renewable energy.

Independent and trusted, with a unique combination of world-leading test and demonstration facilities and engineering and research expertise, ORE Catapult convenes the sector and delivers applied research, accelerating technology development, reducing risk and cost and enhancing UK-wide economic growth.

Active throughout the UK, ORE Catapult has operations in Glasgow, Blyth, Levenmouth, Aberdeen, Hull, the South West and Wales.

About The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

TERI is an independent, multi-dimensional organization, with capabilities in research, policy, consultancy, trainings and implementation. We are innovators and agents of change in the energy, environment, climate change, biotechnology and sustainability space, having pioneered conversations and action in these areas for over four decades. Our research, and research-based solutions have had a transformative impact on industry as well as communities. We have fostered international collaborations on sustainability action by creating a number of platforms and forums, as well as created grass-roots value chains for ensuring the sustainability of our interventions on ground.

About Tension Technology International (TTI)

Tension Technology International (TTI) is an independent consulting group specialising in flexible tension member systems.

TTI is an independent research, design and development company.  Established in 1986, It has consultants based in the UK, Holland, USA and China. TTI’s services include design, engineering and testing of fibres, wire and fibre ropes, chain, cables, umbilicals, fabrics, mooring systems, riser protection nets and subsea tethers.

About Francis Brown

Francis Brown was formed in 1903 and is recognised as a global leader in the supply of fabrication and engineering services to the Renewables, Chemical, Oil and Gas, Rail, Nuclear, Power and Construction markets.

As a family run business – now in its fourth iteration of family leadership – we are known across the world as a leading and independent supplier of complete turnkey engineering solutions that are cost effective, highly compliant and made safely.

About Plymouth Marine Laboratory

For over 40 years we have provided evidence-based environmental solutions to societal challenges by applying cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research that benefits society and promotes stewardship of marine ecosystems. Since 2002, and in association with a wide range of national and international partners, we have provided these capabilities as an independent company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

About Durham Energy Institute (DEI)

Durham Energy Institute (DEI) supports and produces cutting-edge energy research which draws on the expertise of world-leading researchers across Durham University’s departments in Science, Social Science and Humanities.