• Durham University COP26 Event Series: ‘STEAM for ACE’

    Durham University COP26 Event Series: ‘STEAM for ACE’

    Growing Offshore Wind – Developing regional industry-university growth hubs


    Tony Quinn (Operations Director – Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, and recently announced Chair of Energi Coast)



    Benj Sykes (Benj Sykes, Vice President at Ørsted UK)

    Louise Smith (Director, Project Aura)

    Professor Simon Hogg (Ørsted Professor of Renewable Energy at Durham University)


    Wind power has an essential role in reaching Net Zero targets and stopping dangerous global warming.

    In this panel event we will hear about the amazing growth of offshore wind in the UK, the role Durham University has played in these developments and what the role of regional clusters is in meeting ambitious targets to expand the sector to meet the global decarbonisation challenge.

    Durham Energy Institute has had a key role in the development of the two leading offshore wind regional clusters: the North East Cluster – Energi Coast and the Humber Cluster – Aura and has supported the growth of the sector in the UK.

    These regional collaborations between major companies in the offshore wind industry, leading academic institutions and government and non-governmental organisations have a key role in driving forward the ambitions of the UK offshore wind industry and regional economic development. Durham’s Professor Simon Hogg, Ørsted Chair in Renewable Energy, is leading Energi Coast’s Innovation Group and is Chair of Aura’s Research Development and Innovation Strand Steering Group.

    Eight regional clusters were developed as part of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal UK which was agreed between Government and the Offshore Wind Industry Council chaired by Benj Sykes, Vice President at Ørsted UK and DEI Advisory Board member.  DEI has had a long-term strategic partnership with Ørsted which, as the global leader in offshore wind, has been instrumental in the development of the industry in the UK as well as the ambitions for UK offshore wind laid-out in sector deal.

    Tony Quinn is the Test & Validation Director at ORE Catapult.  Tony leads a team of over 70 with a broad set of skills, ranging from technical apprentices to professional engineers who are experts in their chosen field.  Tony has almost 40 years’ experience in the field of power generation starting his career on the largest coal fired power station in Europe.  Tony is also the Chair of Energi Coast, the North East of England’s Offshore Wind Cluster and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and is Chair of its Renewable Power Committee.

    Benj Sykes is Vice President, UK Offshore at Ørsted, the world leader in offshore wind. He co-Chairs the Offshore Wind Industry Council, setting the UK’s offshore wind strategy. Benj has worked in the Energy sector for over 30 years, across the renewable energy and upstream oil and gas sectors. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society and the Energy Institute and is Vice Chair of the DEI Advisory Board.

    Louise Smith is Director of Aura and its brand new Innovation Centre at Bridgehead near Hull, set in the heart of the Humber.  A linguist by training, Louise has spent most of her 30 year career in industry as a consultant on large energy projects, with a particular interest in issues and ‘soft’ risk management.  She joined the Aura Team in 2016, working to build the Aura brand and reputation, consolidating its position in the region, nationally and internationally.

    Professor Simon Hogg holds the Ørsted Chair in Renewable Energy at Durham University. He has been Head of the Engineering Department since 2017 and was DEI’s Executive Director 2014-2017. Simon’s career includes extended periods in industry and academia. He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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