The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has brought together eight of the industry’s major owner/operators to improve performance in operating and maintaining offshore wind farms. It is a move aimed at driving the industry a considerable way towards the goal of £100/MWh for energy generated from offshore wind.
Owner/operators Eon, SSE, EDF Energy Renewables, Scottish Power Renewables, Centrica, Dong Energy, Vattenfall and RWE have joined the ORE Catapult in identifying areas where they can collaborate and innovate, sharing learning and best practice to improve performance and ultimately drive down industry costs.
The group has a unique remit to investigate the common issues that affect offshore wind farm performance and reliability, and to develop and test innovative potential solutions. They will look at areas such as blade erosion and cable damage and failure, which have been identified as common problems affecting almost all operational wind turbine generators in UK waters.
The relatively high costs of operating and maintaining offshore wind turbines can be a barrier to investing more in offshore projects. But a recent study by ORE Catapult, ‘Generating Energy and Prosperity’, highlights the huge potential economic value of a vibrant offshore renewable energy sector and suggests that in an accelerated growth path towards 15GW installed capacity by 2020, the UK economy could gain £1.4billion from activity associated with operating, maintaining, and refurbishing offshore wind turbines.
Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s Innovation Programmes Director, said: “To improve performance and reduce the costs associated with offshore wind farms, there needs to be greater collaboration amongst industry players to share best practice and learning. If we are going to capitalise on the economic opportunity presented by a strong offshore supply chain, then we need to develop a collective view on what the key technology challenges are, and where the industry should be focusing its combined efforts on developing innovative solutions to drive cost reductions.”
Tony Lyon, Head of Renewables Operations & Maintenance from Centrica, said: “Driving cost reduction in operations and maintenance will be a significant step towards achieving the key industry targets on the cost of energy generated from offshore wind, ensuring that the UK remains an attractive investment destination in a rapidly developing global market. This Forum is an important step forward in working towards this.”
Jonathan Cole, Offshore Managing Director of Iberdrola and Offshore Wind Programme Board Operations & Maintenance Workgroup Leader added: “We look forward to working with our industry partners as part of this Forum. The Offshore Wind Programme Board has recognised that collaboration in relation to operations and maintenance activity is pivotal to driving down costs and creating a sustainable long-term industry and this Forum should be highly complementary to the goals of the Programme Board’s Operations & Maintenance Workgroup.”