By Claire Canning, ORE Catapult’s Innovation Manager
Scotland is a nation renowned for its maritime, engineering and innovation know-how, with an industrial and energy heritage that has bred a nation of highly skilled individuals, complex supply chains, lucrative careers and a burgeoning export market.
Our world-leading expertise in oil and gas means Scots companies possess vast amounts of industrial skills and knowledge, making us a global leader in the energy sector. Much of this experience is directly transferrable into other offshore sectors – particularly renewables.
With the transition towards low-carbon energy now in full swing, it has never been more important for Scottish companies to establish a firm foothold in this increasingly competitive landscape. We have a real opportunity to cement the country’s reputation as a frontrunner in renewable energy generation.
Scotland is already playing its part in the development of the UK’s offshore wind industry, and is home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge offshore wind demonstration projects. With almost 8GW of installed offshore wind capacity deployed, being developed or at the planning stage in Scotland, offshore wind is already on track to provide half of the 17GW renewable electricity generating capacity needed to meet the Scottish Government’s target of 50% electricity generated from renewable energy sources by 2030.
Cross-sector collaboration and technology transfer will be key to maximising Scotland’s share of this lucrative opportunity. Other industries – automotive, oil and gas, and maritime among them – are using technology that could benefit offshore renewable energy operations, and we must identify and develop the most encouraging innovations.
Here at ORE Catapult, we are already working with several companies to transfer their skills, experience and technology to the offshore renewables market in ways that, as newcomers to the sector, they might not have previously considered. We match innovative technology, or existing technology owners with offshore expertise, to funding and routes to commercialisation. Our Fit For Offshore Renewables pilot programme, based on the successful Fit for Nuclear initiative, is just one example of how we are preparing the Scottish supply chain to get ready to bid for work in the sector.
At the heart of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal will be a new multi-million pound programme, the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership, to be launched by the Catapult later in 2019. This will help UK companies to compete successfully in the rapidly-growing offshore wind market globally, as well as in the UK. Working with local enterprise partnerships, councils and development agencies, the industry will invest up to £250m over the next 10 years to increase the productivity and competitiveness of UK companies in the global marketplace.
Scotland has the infrastructure, skills and appetite for innovation to maximise the opportunities from the UK’s growing offshore wind sector, stealing a march on the competition and creating benefit both environmentally and commercially on a global scale. We have world-leading technological and development collaboration opportunities on our doorstep – and it’s time to make the most of them.