Robotics & Autonomous Systems

Find out more about our robotics and autonomous systems testing and validation facilities.

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Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub

The Catapult has appointed the University of Strathclyde and the University of Manchester to form the Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub.

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Automation & Engineering Solutions

Find out more about our work in robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence.

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Stay Current

Dig deeper into the biggest issues facing offshore wind, wave and tidal energy with our series of Analysis & Insight papers.

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Innovation Challenges

Solving these technology innovation challenges will help drive down the cost of offshore renewable energy, with positive effects for the industry and UK economy. If your technology has the answer, get in touch via our contact form on the Innovation Challenges page.

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Research & Innovation

ORE Catapult and Tus Extend China Collaboration

The UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and China’s Tus Holdings have extended their international collaboration through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with the People’s Government of Qingdao and the Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (Qingdao).

The parties will cooperate in the Qingdao Marine Science and Technology Revitalization Plan, jointly developing marine renewable energy technology and cooperation between China and Britain. Qingdao is an important coastal economic centre in Shandong Province, close to the TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre (TORC), opened in March of this year.

ORE Catapult CEO, Andrew Jamieson, said: “This new collaboration is an important and very welcome next step in growing our presence in China. We expect it to facilitate further joint research programmes and support market entry and incubation for UK businesses in China through demonstration of new technologies on a 300MW windfarm in the Shandong Province.”

Charlie Du, President of TUS Triple Helix and TUS Clean Energy Senior President, said: “Shandong Province will be one of the biggest offshore wind energy markets in China. This four-party collaboration is another milestone achieved by ORE Catapult and Tuspark in their UK-China offshore renewable energy partnership, after the successful establishment of TORC. Tuspark and the Catapult will continue working closely together to promote UK technology application in China, to the benefit of human welfare.”

China is predicted to become the world’s largest offshore wind market by 2030, with the Chinese Government investing $100bn in wind power projects by 2020 and aiming to install 5GW of offshore wind in the South China Sea, with a further 10GW in planning.

Also today, UK wind company Anakata signed an MOU with TUS Wind, Qingdao Government and TUS Triple Helix to progress innovative rotor blade technology in the Chinese market – a relationship which was brought together by TORC.

Offshore Wind

New £1.5 million boost for UK offshore wind innovators

  • Call to companies looking to prove innovations on next generation wind farm
  • Vattenfall and ORE Catapult deepen agreement to support UK supply chain development

A new £1.5 million programme is offering UK innovators developing products and services for the offshore wind market the opportunity to test and demonstrate them on one of the world’s most cutting-edge fossil-free energy projects.

The jointly funded, three-year agreement between Vattenfall, the Swedish energy group, and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy, will give innovators in the offshore wind supply chain the opportunity to test and demonstrate technologies in real-world conditions at Vattenfall’s pioneering £300 million European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), off Aberdeen.

The programme is seeking innovators to bring forward technologies to solve some of the current operations and maintenance challenges facing the industry in areas such as blade repair and leading-edge erosion, robotics and autonomous systems and remote array cable monitoring and inspection. If successful, companies chosen will be able to demonstrate their technologies at the EOWDC, potentially securing a route to market for their innovations.

The programme deepens the collaboration announced between Vattenfall and ORE Catapult in June 2018, to support innovation deployment at the EOWDC.

Danielle Lane, Vattenfall’s UK Country Manager, said: “It’s with innovation – proved in the stormy seas off the Aberdeenshire coast – that the offshore wind industry will make a crucial contribution to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This £1.5 million programme agreed between Vattenfall and ORE Catapult makes broader thinking real by giving talented innovators from across the UK the chance to test the potential of their creations in the best possible environment – the real world.

“And innovation is more easily made commercial in a positive policy framework. That’s why the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, agreed between the industry and the UK government, is so important to securing the long-term potential of the innovation we will see tested at the EOWDC.”

Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s Operational Performance Director, added: “This new £1.5 million programme with Vattenfall and the EOWDC provides a unique opportunity for UK innovators to work with ORE Catapult and Vattenfall to bring new technologies to market through testing in a controlled real-world environment.

“Accessing real-world opportunities to test, demonstrate and validate their technologies is often a real barrier to commercialisation for small innovators, and therefore this investment should give UK companies a crucial edge in developing technology and services for the new wave of offshore wind developments and help the UK government to meet its target of generating at least a third of the UK’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030.”

The £300 millon, 93.2MW EOWDC is an offshore wind test and demonstration facility that is home to 11 of the world’s most powerful and innovative wind turbines. Annually it will prevent on average 134,000 tonnes of CO2 every year and meet the power needs of 80,000 UK households, 70% of the City of Aberdeen.

Companies interested in finding out more should contact Hugh Riddell.

Research & Innovation

Hundreds of UK companies to benefit from new initiative to maximise offshore wind supply chain opportunities

Offshore Wind Industry Council | OWIC | ORE Catapult

Former McLaren Group CEO and Formula One Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh will chair industry-funded programme to develop a globally competitive UK supply chain and support over 650 companies to deliver 60% UK content in offshore wind farms.

The Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) is launching a £100m, 10-year programme today to support the growth of UK businesses looking to capitalise on the huge opportunities offered by the growth in offshore wind around the world.

The new initiative, the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP), is a key part of the recent Sector Deal between industry and Government, which will see at least 30 gigawatts of offshore wind installed by 2030, generating a third of the UK’s electricity (up from 8GW now). It will also see UK content in our offshore wind farms increase from 48% currently to 60% by 2030.

The OWGP will be delivered by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult which will provide support to supply chain companies to enable them to grow and to increase their competitiveness. Support will include a range of services such as expert advice on manufacturing and commercialisation as well as funding for innovation. This will:

  • Help UK companies currently in the UK offshore wind supply chain
  • Enhance the ability of UK companies to export products and services around the world.
  • Enable companies from other sectors to enter the offshore wind supply chain.
  • Inspire companies to develop the next generation of innovative products and services to meet specific industry requirements.

The programme is expected to support over 650 UK companies to access the domestic offshore wind market, as well as creating further opportunities to enter a global market expected to be worth £30bn per year by 2030. It is anticipated the annual value of UK offshore wind exports alone could grow five-fold by the end of the next decade to £2.6bn.

It’s being announced today that the OWGP will be governed by an independent board chaired by Martin Whitmarsh, the former McLaren Group CEO and Formula One Team Principal, who carried out a review of the UK offshore wind supply chain for the Offshore Wind Industry Council which was published in February.
Zoe Barnes, a partner at Everoze, a consultancy specialising in renewables, Stephen Burgin, an electrical engineer who has held executive roles in companies including ABB, Alstom and GE, and Richard Turner of business advisers Elan Solutions, a former President and CEO of JDR Cable Systems, have also been appointed to the OWGP Board.

To mark today’s launch, the OWGP is initiating its first activity; an in-depth assessment of the offshore wind foundations sector.  This will assess the current and projected requirements for turbine foundations in the UK and abroad, identify potential barriers to growth and make recommendations to overcome these challenges. This four- month activity is the first in a series of studies which the OWGP will undertake into various parts of the offshore wind supply chain.

The study will focus on fixed foundations (monopiles and jackets) but will also consider how this relates to future developments in floating foundations. It will identify suppliers for different foundation types, assessing what has made companies operating in the sector successful, and look at buyers’ requirements in terms of price and quality, so that other firms can enter the market. The study will recommend actions to help support the development of the UK supply chain for foundations through short and long-term initiatives.

First registrations of interest by companies seeking to benefit from the wider OWGP programme can be made this week at RenewableUK’s Global Offshore Wind 2019 conference and exhibition in London on 25th and 26th June. The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult will be holding an event at the conference (on 25th June) to provide more information about the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership, including the launch of its new website through which interested companies can register.

The OWGP will invite companies to apply for support on a regular basis.  The first pilot opportunity is expected to be in September with further programmes starting in early 2020.

Industry Chair of the OWIC and Ørsted UK Country Manager for Offshore, Benj Sykes, said

“The offshore wind industry is offering multi-million pound opportunities to hundreds of innovative companies throughout the UK in the years ahead – including new entrants to the market as well as firms already working in this area.

“The Offshore Wind Growth Partnership will provide practical help for UK companies so they can compete successfully for contracts in this thriving global market. The UK’s global pre-eminence in offshore wind means we are uniquely placed to sell our innovative products and services worldwide”.

For further information please contact Robert Norris, Head of Communications at RenewableUK.

Offshore Wind, Operation & Performance, Research & Innovation

Autonomous vessels, drones and crawling robots – welcome to the future of offshore wind farm inspection and repair

New £4m project set to develop world’s first fully autonomous offshore wind inspection and repair solution 

A new £4 million cross-sector innovation project is set to develop the world’s first fully autonomous robotic inspection and repair solution for offshore wind farms, which is expected to save the average wind farm approximately £26 million over the course of its lifetime.

The Innovate UK-funded MIMRee (Multi-Platform Inspection, Maintenance and Repair in Extreme Environments) is an ambitious two-year project bringing in expertise from the fields of robotics, non-destructive testing, artificial intelligence, space mission planning, marine and aerial engineering and nanobiotechnology. It aims to prove that offshore wind operations and maintenance missions can be conducted by autonomous vessels, aerial vehicles and crawling robots.

Inspection and repair missions on wind turbine blades are typically performed by rope-access technicians, often working in extreme conditions and during restricted weather windows. The length of turbine downtime, and hence lost energy production, using this approach is high, while daily use of crew transfer vessels makes up a significant proportion of a wind farm’s operation and maintenance costs.

Eight industry and academic partners will work together on this game-changing new system that will build on their own existing innovations. Plant Integrity will lead the consortium and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult will provide offshore wind industry insight, engineering expertise and access to facilities to test and demonstrate the MIMRee system.

Thales’ Halcyon autonomous vessel will play a key role, as will a drone system under development by the University of Bristol’s Dr Tom Richardson, and the six-legged crawling repair robot BladeBUG, invented by entrepreneur Chris Cieslak. The core innovation challenge will be to bring these units into one team capable of planning, communicating, sharing data and working together on a complex chain of tasks.

The University of Manchester’s Dr Simon Watson will lead development of a system for transporting, deploying and retrieving the blade crawler whilst Dr Sara Bernardini of Royal Holloway University of London will lead creation of the human-machine interface that will allow personnel located onshore to analyse the data transmitted by MIMRee and intervene as necessary.

Dr Bernardini said: “We will be working closely with a group of offshore wind technicians to create personas for the robots and map the tasks that will turn a human-led mission into an autonomous operation. Testing and consultation with technicians will be crucial to designing the interface for remote monitoring and intervention and understanding how to deal with the unexpected in a mission.”

If successful, future offshore wind farm inspections and repairs will look very different from those of today. Autonomous vessels will be initiating and planning missions, and mapping and scanning wind turbine blades upon approach to understand where the robots should be deployed.

On-board drones will take off from the mothership to conduct visual and hyperspectral imaging inspection of the blades and transport crawling robots on to the blade to effect repairs using an innovative robotic arm for resurfacing the blades (created bespoke by Dr Sina Sareh’s team at the Royal College of Art Robotics Laboratory). An electronic skin, developed by high-tech start-up Wootzano, will ‘feel’ the surface and collect a deeper level of data on the blade surface structure.

Martin Bourton, Principal Project Leader at Plant Integrity, added: “The moment when an autonomous mothership and robotic crew sail in UK waters will be a world-first – and likely a game-changer for the offshore, oil and gas and defence industries too. Some of the technologies are more fully-developed, such as the autonomous vessel, but robotics is at a more experimental stage. While the focus is on solving vital problems for the offshore wind industry, we’d expect to see a lot more insights and applications emerging as we test different combinations of mechanics, sensors and robotic intelligence.”

Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s Operational Performance Director, also commented: “This project aligns closely with the UK Government’s latest Offshore Wind Sector Deal and wider Industrial Strategy and will position the UK as a world leader in robotics and autonomous systems development, as well as highlighting a route to market for innovators in robotics, data and digitalisation services.

“Reducing the use of crew transfer vessels is an imperative for the offshore wind industry, as it will positively impact health and safety, help push down cost and combine the UK’s competitive advantage in operating offshore renewable energy plant with its world-leading robotics sector”.

About MIMRee

MIMRee stands for Multi-Platform Maintenance, Inspection and Repair in Extreme Environments, a project that was awarded funding by Innovate UK to develop and test a fully automated inspection and repair system for offshore wind farms. The project is funded by Innovate UK and will run for two years at a cost of £4.2 million.

The eight academic and industry partners working on the MIMRee project over the next two years are:

  • Plant Integrity Ltd
  • Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult
  • Thales
  • Wootzano Ltd
  • The University of Bristol
  • The University of Manchester
  • Royal Holloway, The University of London
  • The Royal College of Art
Data & Digitalisation, Offshore Wind, Operation & Performance

ORE Catapult highlights need for more data experts in offshore wind

New research from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult published today (Wednesday 22 May) is highlighting the advantages to the UK offshore wind sector of investing in in-house data expertise to realise the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution.

The recommendation has come from a report summarising the findings from ORE Catapult’s five Data Pilots projects, commissioned by The Crown Estate, in which the Catapult worked with industrial partners in the offshore wind sector to solve operational challenges by using modern digital techniques.

The aim was to build an evidence base underlining the importance of embracing data and digital innovations to help lower the cost of offshore wind energy and accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.

Emerging as a central theme from each of the five projects was a lack of understanding about the raw data produced by assets, and how to translate and use this data effectively to enhance operations. Data sets from windfarms are often large and poorly formatted and experts are required to prepare and analyse this kind of information. Investing in hiring and training data engineers and scientists could help the industry improve efficiency in the design, operations and maintenance of offshore renewable energy plant.

Also, Machine Learning and AI, which both have huge potential to improve and streamline data processing and analysis, are not well understood in the offshore renewable energy sector and are not being used to their full potential.

Dr Conaill Soraghan, Data & Digitalisation Team Leader at ORE Catapult, said: “Through our Data Pilots programme, it has become clear that there is a significant need for companies to invest in data expertise as an in-house resource. The Data Pilots have highlighted the specific areas that companies should focus on developing skills in, such as machine learning, dashboarding and benchmarking.

“We also know that organisations are struggling with data processing. For example, we work with companies to help them bring their data to life by building digital dashboards which can add huge value to their operations.

“For global technology firms, data and technological innovation are the raw materials that drive their businesses. Offshore renewable organisations must follow their lead or risk being left behind in the fourth industrial revolution.”

Adrian Fox, Head of Offshore Assets at The Crown Estate, commented: “Together with the team at ORE Catapult, we’re working to help the UK offshore wind sector unlock the benefits of data analysis, visualisation and insight; exploring how some of today’s operational issues could be resolved faster and more accurately using state of the art techniques.

“The focus on driving value from data will no doubt bring real benefits to industry, helping maintain offshore winds’ leading position as the renewable energy solution of choice for the UK, and supporting UK talent to lead the fourth industrial revolution.”


Academic, Research & Innovation

New funding links Scottish businesses with latest R&D support and expertise

A new initiative launching this month from the Knowledge Exchange Network (KEN) pledges to give Scottish businesses a head start in developing offshore wind products and services by accessing academic expertise.

The Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) is an alliance of 13 Scottish universities offering world-class capability and resources in energy technology development. Through KEN, which is funded by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, it provides Scottish technology developers with access to the nation’s leading academics and researchers.

The scheme encourages entrepreneurs and developers from other industries to bring their innovative ideas and technologies to the table, particularly those at the early stages of development, and encourages bids from smaller businesses that lack in-house development skills. The programme will take successful applicants from feasibility studies and modelling right through to testing and validation for the next stage of development.

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, which is the UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy, will help identify the brightest ideas and ways of commercialising them.

ORE Catapult’s Alex Louden, who leads Wind Business Development for the ETP, believes that today’s first-footers in technology development will be in pole position to exploit the global offshore wind market opportunities.

“We are living through one of the biggest energy transitions in human history – wind energy has gone from almost zero to a multi-billion pound industry in the UK in just a few decades. Like the first Gold Rush or oil pioneers, those with the spark and invention to get into the industry now will live to see this market boom in the coming decades.

“Some of the ideas we have taken through the ETP have started out as sketches or almost back-garden experiments. Others are game-changers from the country’s larger manufacturers. Where you start from is not important, what we are looking for are ingenious ideas that can tackle some of the industry’s key technology challenges.”

One company to have benefitted from the scheme is Argyll-based Renewable Parts, founded by entrepreneur Ewan Anderson in 2011. Renewable Parts identified a gap in the market: a lack of a reliable and sustainable system for sourcing spare parts for wind farms. The angle he chose was ingeniously green – refurbishing old parts instead of sourcing new ones, which also helps the industry keep its costs down.

Find out more about our academic collaborations in Circuit Magazine

Academic, Offshore Wind

University of Sheffield, GE Renewable Energy and Catapult collaborate in new £2.5m Powertrain Research Hub

ORE Catapult’s third Research Hub will focus on the development of next generation turbines, improving their operation, reliability and performance.

The University of Sheffield has been named as the academic partner in the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s newest Research Hub, focusing on offshore wind turbine powertrains.

The University is world-renowned for its expertise in the fields of electrical machines, power electronics, controls and energy conversion and storage and will contribute a minimum of £1.7m over five years.  This complements the £700k funding from the Catapult with the collective contributions supporting 12 PhDs, a number of Postdoctoral Research Associates and access to the University’s extensive testing facilities in addition to ORE Catapult’s 1, 3 and 15 MW test assets at its National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.

GE Renewable Energy will also contribute £500,000 over a four-year programme supporting a number of research projects.  This allows the university to significantly increase its contributions.

The Powertrain Research Hub (PTRH) will support the development of future technologies for larger turbines and research solutions for improving turbine reliability and availability. The Hub’s key objectives are:

  • Reliability improvement and advanced test methodologies.
  • Advanced health condition monitoring and prognostic technologies.
  • Development of next generation powertrain components for larger sized wind turbines.

Research will focus on minimising human interventions throughout the life of the wind turbine, an area of research that has attracted the support of GE Renewable Energy as it is a good fit with its recently announced ‘Stay Ashore!’ research collaboration with the Catapult, aimed at minimising the time people have to spend offshore.

The Catapult already has a strong track record in powertrain testing, research and development and recently signed a five-year collaboration agreement with GE Renewable Energy to advance next generation turbine technologies, including the Haliade-X 12 MW, the most powerful wind turbine in the world to date.

Paul McKeever, ORE Catapult’s Head of Strategic Research, said:

“With industry moving towards larger wind turbines, we have an opportunity to significantly contribute to reducing the cost of turbine technology. It is essential to maximise this opportunity in a number of key areas including the challenge of improving powertrain component reliability and availability.

“By developing the next generation of powertrain components, and improving their lifespan, we can significantly reduce the related operations and maintenance costs and subsequently minimise the number of human interventions for potentially dangerous turbine repair work at sea.”

Scientific Director Professor David Stone from the University of Sheffield said:

“The University of Sheffield sees working with ORE Catapult as a fantastic opportunity to apply its cutting-edge research ideas to support the rapidly expanding field of green energy generation solutions. The synergies brought about by the Powertrain Research Hub will not only bring benefits for the University and the offshore wind industrial sector, but consumers as a whole through higher reliability, lower cost electricity generation.”

Vincent Schellings, CTO and General Manager Product Management for GE’s Renewable Energy Offshore Wind business added:

“The goals of the Powertrain Research Hub are aligned with our Stay Ashore! program announced at the end of last year. This academic collaboration will give us access to different insights, that will ultimately help us to achieve our goal of minimising the time spent at sea, which is a key element of reducing the cost of electricity for our customers.”

Offshore Wind, Research & Innovation

New UK business growth programme seeking Chair and Board members

The newly-announced Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) is recruiting for a Non-Executive Chair and two additional Non-Executive Directors who have a passion for growing UK businesses and want to play a key role in building on the UK offshore wind success story.

Announced as part of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, the OWGP is part of a £250 million investment by the offshore wind industry that will support improvements in productivity and competitiveness to build a stronger UK supply chain.  The aim is to drive increased UK content into offshore windfarms to meet a target of 60% by 2030, and to increase exports fivefold to £2.6bn a year.

The OWGP is seeking three business leaders with experience of the offshore wind sector or the ability to bring new experience of supply chain management from other sectors to serve on the OWGP Governance Board.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research and Innovation Director at ORE Catapult, said: “The OWGP is a long-term programme backed by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) and is based on successful models used in the aerospace and automotive sectors that have demonstrated the value that can be created from growth partnerships.”

“The OWGP activities will initially focus on helping supply chain companies with strategy and leadership, project management, people excellence, process excellence, health and safety culture, and quality management. It will also work with the offshore wind developers to provide greater long-term visibility of project pipelines that will help supply chain companies to plan and, if necessary, to invest in new capability or capacity.

“The Governance Board will play a key role in providing oversight for the OWGP’s activities.”

Over the next decade, there will be a huge global expansion of offshore wind capacity with some estimates envisaging a 17% annual growth from 22GW to 154GW in total installed capacity by 2030.  The domestic opportunities are significant too. Building at least 30GW of offshore wind by 2030 will see a £48bn investment in UK infrastructure over the next decade, generating 27,000 jobs.

Visit the OWGP webpage for more information. Closing date for applications is Tuesday 23 April 2019.

Data & Digitalisation, Operation & Performance

Survey reveals industrial priorities when it comes to adopting data and digitalisation in the offshore wind sector

The Digital Innovation Priorities Survey, commissioned by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, has identified the biggest data and digital challenges currently facing the industry

An independent survey carried out among key stakeholders in the offshore wind sector has revealed that more needs to be done when it comes to adopting and sharing new data and digital technologies.

Almost all participants who took part in the research (94%) said there is a gap between the way in which the offshore wind industry currently operates, and how it should be operating in order to extract the full value from data and digital technologies. One third of the respondents (31%) also admitted to having a low or very low understanding of data and its potential for the sector.

The Digital Innovation Priorities Survey was commissioned by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult with the aim of identifying the biggest data and digitalisation challenges currently facing the offshore wind industry. It also looked to uncover what measures could be taken to break down the barriers that exist to realising the potential of data and digitalisation for future growth in the sector, by exploring ways in which bottlenecks can be addressed and how ORE Catapult can help move the industry forwards.

Improving the way in which the offshore wind industry gathers and uses data, analytics and insights is seen as vital to the sector’s success and in achieving the ambitious growth targets set out in the recently announced joint UK Government-industry Sector Deal, which will see at least 30GW installed UK offshore capacity by 2030, creating 27,000 jobs.

Turbine data accessibility and an unwillingness for organisations to share data with each other were cited as two of the main bottlenecks the industry is currently contending with, along with a lack of digital capability to understand and analyse data and turn it into actionable insight. More than a third of people (37%) said the sharing of data needs to be encouraged, while one fifth (20%) said increasing the standardisation of data formats would help the sector to better understand and take advantage of the information being presented to them.

Dr Conaill Soraghan, Data & Digitalisation Team Leader at ORE Catapult, said: “It is our ambition to drive the ‘Race to Zero’ human intervention initiative here in the UK, and to champion the new technology that can help us achieve that ambitious goal of minimising the time people have to spend offshore, which will enhance both safety and operating costs for offshore wind farms.  We believe that data and digitalisation are a key area of opportunity for the offshore wind sector. The industry generates huge amounts of data and the potential it presents are endless, particularly in terms of improving efficiency, aiding decision making, reducing running costs and solving operation and maintenance issues.

“However, this survey has revealed that there are significant challenges which exist around the effective management and usage of data. Data owners are struggling with data volume, modern digital technologies are not being exploited to process and analyse data, and many digital service providers are lacking awareness of, and access to, the offshore wind industry to develop solutions for the sector. Concepts and techniques in areas such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence are yet to have an impact in offshore wind, and that’s something that needs to change if the sector is to embrace a more cost-effective future.”

Over 35 of the leading organisations in offshore wind were selected to provide detailed responses as part of the survey, including windfarm owner/operators, original equipment manufacturers, consultants and supply chain companies. Of the supply chain companies questioned, almost a quarter (22%) explicitly said they found it harder to sell their services to the offshore wind sector compared to other sectors. Elsewhere, assistance with data governance, machine learning applications, the development of digital twin models and analytical services were all cited as services which are yet to have been commissioned by the offshore wind sector.

When asked which other sectors the offshore wind industry should be learning from, oil and gas was cited most heavily (31%) followed by the aerospace and aviation (25%), automotive (23%) and electrical power (20%) industries.

Dr Soraghan adds: “Whilst highlighting some key areas that need improvement, our survey has also endorsed the relevance of the work we do at the Catapult. There is a consensus from respondents that we are in the best position to lead progress in terms of data and digitalisation for the industry, with 76% of respondents registering a positive view of the role we can play. We are acting on the survey’s findings and are determined to move forward with initiatives that will help the industry adopt a more efficient, effective, data-driven future.”

ORE Catapult is the UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy. Using their unique facilities and expertise, the Catapult works in close partnership with OEMs, developers and owner/operators in the offshore renewable energy industry to improve existing and develop next generation renewable energy technology in the UK.

The Digital Innovation Priorities Survey was undertaken by independent tech-focussed market research company System Insight and commissioned by ORE Catapult.

Offshore Wind, Research & Innovation

New Joint UK-China Research Centre Open to Opportunity of $100bn Offshore Wind Market

A new £2million joint UK-China offshore wind research centre has opened today (Thursday 21st March) in Yantai City, the highlight of a week-long trade mission to China for 11 innovative UK companies eager to explore opportunities presented by the world’s fastest growing offshore wind market.

The TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre (TORC) will act as a leading renewable energy technology research and development centre with unique links into both the UK and China to support the growth of their respective offshore wind industries.

The Centre will develop collaborative research programmes, support market entry and incubation for UK businesses in China, provide commercial support for Chinese offshore wind developers and support the demonstration of new technologies on a 300MW windfarm in the Shandong Province.

ORE Catapult’s Chief Executive, Andrew Jamieson, said “Our new Research Centre, in partnership with TUS, will support UK businesses as they take advantage of a new wave of opportunities to engage with one of the fastest-growing offshore wind markets in the world – and present a fantastic opportunity to develop a supply chain that can compete on a global scale.”

“With more than a decade of experience and expertise in this sector, and global exports expected to be worth £2.6bn a year by 2030 for UK companies, now is the time for innovative companies to act and establish themselves at the heart of the Chinese market.”

China is predicted to become the world’s largest offshore wind market by 2030, with the Chinese Government investing $100bn in wind power projects by 2020 and aiming to install 5GW of offshore wind in the South China Sea, with a further 10GW in planning.

Tus Clean Energy’s Senior Vice president, Charlie Du, said “The TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre is an important project established under ‘The Belt and Road’ initiative. China’s ocean economy is increasing by 7.2% per year and the province of Shandong’s abundant resources has been enlisted by the State Council as a ‘comprehensive test area for new and old kinetic energy conversion’.

“Following the development of TORC, I believe the government will provide more favourable policies to UK companies seeking to enter China to create real benefit to both sides, furthering the technological cooperation between China and UK and creating significant opportunities and reliable incubation service for UK companies”.

The Innovate UK Global Business Innovation Programme offshore wind mission was set up to provide innovative UK companies with an invaluable opportunity to both engage with potential Chinese technology partners in the sector and gain an insight as to how their technology development programmes can be adapted for the rapidly emerging offshore wind market.

Synaptec, which develops unique photonic sensing systems on optical fibre to minimise network fault disruption, is part of the trade mission. Head of Business Development Saul Matthews commented: “As a small business with big ambitions, we are clear that offshore wind is a global market. Working with ORE Catapult to access the leading developments in the biggest offshore wind market in the world places us in pole position to seize the opportunity to not only grow our company in the UK but to generate significant exports and international development”.

The UK is the global leader in offshore wind power, with more offshore wind farms than any other country in the world. By 2030, it is expected that offshore wind will generate one third of the UK’s total electricity requirements.


Notes to Editors

The UK companies participating in the Innovate UK Global Business Innovation Programme offshore wind mission are:

Synaptec, GreenSpur Renewables, Magnomatics Ltd, Rovco Limited, SENSE Wind Ltd, ARC Marine, Cedeco Contractors Ltd, MasterFilter Limited, Anakata Wind Power Resources Ltd, Sennen Tech and First Airborne Britannia Ltd


TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre (TORC)

TORC is a joint venture company established by ORE Catapult Development Services Ltd (located in Northumberland, UK), TUS Wind Technology Co Ltd (located in Beijing, China) and TUS Mingshi Science and Innovation Co Ltd (based in Yantai, China). Its main office is located in the Yantai Hi-Tech Development Zone in the coastal city of Yantai, in the Shandong Province in China.

Priority research programmes for the new Tus-ORE Catapult Research Centre include:

  • Next generation component design/manufacture for improved reliability of wind turbines (including novel generator and subcomponent design)
  • Novel installation technologies to reduce costs and risk for windfarm installation (including technologies relating to foundation installation, cable trenching and environmental issues)
  • Improved Operations & Maintenance technologies for windfarm inspection and monitoring (including ROV / drone monitoring techniques and data analysis)
  • A review of windfarm developments in China and potential technology challenges which joint research projects could address in terms of deployment and operation

Cookies on Catapult explained

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