OWIH sets up plan for future innovation

ORE CatapultA guide to the future priorities and opportunities for innovation in support of the UK’s expansion of offshore wind has been launched by the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub (OWIH).

The four technology challenge areas, presented as Innovation Roadmaps, set out the needs and priorities for the UK’s offshore wind industry to provide the Government and industry with clear guidance on the route to achieving the sector’s ambitious targets to supply one third of the country’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030.

The challenge areas align closely with the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and have been developed in collaboration with industry and academia by the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub, an initiative delivered jointly by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network.

The Roadmaps aim to identify areas for innovation that can reduce the levelised cost of energy for offshore wind.

The Roadmaps will provide validated information on the challenges and innovations within the UK offshore wind sector. Also highlighting to the supply chain potential market opportunities, and demonstrating technology areas that are in need of innovation.

The four challenges areas – Turbines, Substructures, Operations & Maintenance and Windfarm Lifecycle, and Electrical Infrastructure – are designed to cover all aspects of the construction, operations and maintenance of offshore wind farms and build on previous innovation prioritisation work undertaken in the sector, such as the Cost Reduction Monitoring Framework.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research & Innovation Director at ORE Catapult and Co-Chair of the Hub’s Technical Advisory Group, said: “Innovation is at the heart of developing a strong UK supply chain and capitalising on the global growth of the offshore wind sector. The technology challenge roadmaps published today by the OWIH clearly signpost where the industry should be focussing its innovation effort to continue to drive down costs and maximise on these opportunities.”

The Innovation Hub will now work with industry to issue specific technology challenges in each Challenge area, providing clear routes to market for supply chain companies with innovative solutions. To date, seven specific innovation challenges have been issued, working with two industry partners. These have resulted in 72 solutions being proposed from 53 different companies. The most promising of these are now being further developed for application.

Ray Thompson, Head of Business Development for Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy Limited and fellow Co-Chair, said: “The technology challenges are designed to provide an impartial sector-wide view of the priority innovation areas for offshore wind. They add value to the industry, the supply chain, and academia by highlighting where technology innovation efforts should be focused.”

Benj Sykes, Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC), has welcomed the publication of the technology challenge areas. “These challenge areas will help to focus our industry innovation activity as we work closely with Government to maximise the advantages of our world-leading position and agree a transformational Sector Deal, which will unlock at least 30GW of capacity by the end of the next decade, providing affordable clean electricity to homes and businesses across the UK, energising the innovative UK businesses serving our industry at home and abroad, and creating skilled UK jobs in the places where they are most needed.”

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