ORE Catapult’s Centres of Excellence

Published 17 April 2020

Here at the Catapult, we’re investing in critical areas of disruptive innovation. Innovation has been at the heart of the impressive cost reductions the offshore wind sector has experienced over the past decade. It will secure the UK’s world-leading status in offshore renewable energy, as well as accelerate the essential activities needed to achieve our ‘net-zero’ carbon reduction targets by 2050.

In doing so, we have set up Centres of Excellence throughout the UK, focusing on four innovation hotspots:

Testing & Validation

Our National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland, is a Centre of Excellence in testing and validation. It is a concentration of leading expertise and infrastructure dedicated to the acceleration of new and innovative offshore renewable energy technology in order to drive down the cost of energy.

Equipped to provide extensive test and validation services and support to the full breadth of industry – including owner/operators, equipment manufacturers, the supply chain and academia – it is a catalyst for collaboration, advancing technology readiness, commercialisation and growth.

Working at the National Renewable Energy Centre are highly experienced teams of technical researchers, test engineers and technology specialists. They deliver test, validation and applied research services across a broad spectrum of innovation challenges; from developing early-stage technology with small businesses, to full-scale certification testing vital in achieving commercialisation. Comprising a wealth of capability, the National Renewable Energy Centre is designed to address and overcome the industry’s key challenges across major technology areas, including:

Test & Validation Director Tony Quinn said:

“Our National Renewable Energy Centre is an integral part of the UK’s national infrastructure for offshore renewable energy. By working with key partners, we can leverage our unique, specialist position to attract inward investment from major industry players, as well as develop the export potential of homegrown technology that has been tested and proven at the Centre.”

O&M Centre of Excellence

O&M activities make up almost a quarter of the lifetime costs of an offshore wind farm and provide a huge opportunity for cost reduction through innovative products and services.

We’ve established a national Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence (OMCE), based in the Humber, that specialises in helping UK businesses create and commercialise technologies for the offshore renewables sector. The Centre sits amidst one of the world’s most significant offshore wind clusters, where 22 local businesses are gearing up to service 11GW of planned future installed capacity in nearby waters.

The Centre has a portfolio of more than 70 research and innovation projects that represent a total investment of £40 million in UK innovation. They address a variety of urgent O&M priorities, including data and digitalisation, robotics and automation, health and safety, and lifetime extension of turbines and components.

Ben George, General Manager for the OMCE, said:

The OMCE brings together key stakeholders from the offshore wind sector to build on the UK’s experience in the operations and maintenance of offshore wind farms and drive solution-focused innovation and improvements in O&M.”

Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence

In an effort to boost the UK’s floating offshore wind industry, our newly launched Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (FOWCoE) aims to develop an internationally recognised initiative to reduce the cost of energy from floating wind. The Centre will accelerate the build-out of floating farms, create opportunities for the UK supply chain, and drive innovations in manufacturing, installation and O&M.

The FOWCoE looks to support the wider economy, creating immense opportunities for the UK supply chain. Our Macroeconomic Benefits report identified that in Scotland and South West England, in particular, there is massive potential for this next-gen technology. These locations will benefit tremendously from floating offshore wind, creating an estimated 17,000 jobs and generating a staggering £33.6 billion for the UK economy by 2050.

As part of the Centre of Excellence, we will use our world-class skills and expertise to benchmark global standards for floating offshore wind and reinforce the UK’s position as a global leader.

Andy Martin, Business Development Lead at ORE Catapult, said:

The reasons for supporting floating offshore wind are clear: it can be installed at the best wind resource locations, which often are in deep waters; installation costs can be reduced by eliminating the need for large and expensive installation vessels; and wind turbine installation and commissioning can be performed at port, hence reducing weather and H&S risks. Our Centre of Excellence aims to disrupt the current pattern of behaviour and accelerate the commercialisation of floating wind technology to unlock the wind power potential of deep-water sites across the UK, develop opportunities for the local supply chain and achieve the net-zero targets.”

Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence

“Wales has an important role to play in the development of clean energy,“

says our Director of Research and Disruptive Innovation, Dr Stephen Wyatt.

“It is home to a number of wave and tidal developers and the waters off the Welsh coast are a prime location for floating wind. There is huge potential for existing businesses to supply the marine energy industry and for new companies setting up in the region to grasp the opportunity.”

The Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) is a multi-million-pound collaboration between ORE Catapult and the universities of Cardiff, Bangor, Swansea, and Cardiff Metropolitan, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).

MEECE is providing expert knowledge for the marine energy industry, supporting Welsh SMEs to develop new products and services, creating new jobs and reducing the cost of marine energy by carrying out collaborative marine energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects. Working alongside the Marine Energy Test Area (META), the Port of Milford Haven, local universities and the local supply chain, the Centre offers unique facilities and capabilities to marine energy developers, fostering innovation to reduce the cost of marine energy, reduce risks and capture export opportunities.

Find out more about our Centres of Excellence in the latest Re-Energise magazine: Regional Growth Fuelling Future Innovation.