Catapult project to put UK companies in $100bn shop window

Published 7 November 2017

UK companies working in the offshore wind sector are to be put in a $100bn shop window thanks to a new research programme between the UK and Asia.

Launched by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and funded by Innovate UK, the International ORE Research Platform links UK-based technology developers with Chinese authorities including the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), major Chinese wind farm developers and the Chinese Wind Energy Equipment Association (CWEEA).

The aim is to accelerate the development of the Chinese offshore wind sector, by inviting UK companies to develop and implement specific solutions for the market.

Leading the project is ORE Catapult’s Technical Bid Manager, James Battensby. He said: “There are major opportunities for high-tech companies in the UK offshore wind supply chain – with the Chinese government announcing it wishes to invest $100bn in wind power projects by 2020.

“While previous collaborations with China have been academic, this is important as it gives technology developers, including SMEs and those operating in related sectors, a direct opportunity to win business in the flourishing Chinese market.

“With more than a decade of experience and expertise in this sector, we believe we have a very compelling offer for these markets.”

The research platform will initially see UK companies working on technical solutions for the newly proposed Shandong offshore wind farm in the South China Sea which will be greater than 200MW. Working with Chinese developers and technology partners, the platform will set specific challenges for UK companies to address at a series of workshops to start next month.

Developers of these solutions will have the opportunity to supply this new wind farm, as well as source funding to demonstrate their technology in the rapidly increasing South China Sea offshore wind market.

Ernst & Young recently described China as the world’s most attractive market for investing in renewable energy, with the country planning to defer or curtail 104GW of coal power capacity in favour of renewable developments. The country currently has 146GW of installed onshore wind capacity – 40 percent of the world’s total – and is planning to install 5GW of offshore wind in the South China Sea by 2020.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, ORE Catapult’s Research and Innovation Director added:  “The UK has an enviable position in the offshore wind industry; we have world-class technical expertise, unrivalled test and demonstration assets, and a flourishing supply chain. That’s not to mention the decades of experience we have in the offshore environment with the oil and gas sector.

“This project will highlight a new wave of opportunities to engage with some of the fastest-growing offshore wind markets in the world – and present a fantastic opportunity to develop a supply chain to the rest of the world.”

In addition to the Chinese opportunities, the international research platform is reviewing opportunities for UK companies in the United States, which currently has significant plans for expansion of new offshore wind farms off the east coast of Massachusetts.

The project comes as part of Innovate UK’s mission to develop international opportunities for British technology businesses.

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