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Innovation Challenges

Eliminating technician risk in wind farm heavy lifts


Red Rock Power Limited (RRPL) is a growing, European renewable energy company based in Scotland with three wind developments currently in development or operation – the proposed Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm in the Firth of Forth; Afton, an operational onshore wind farm in East Ayrshire; and a 25% share of Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm which was completed in summer 2019. The company has strong ambitions to expand into other European sustainable energy sectors in the year ahead as well as continue to grow its UK offshore wind portfolio by participating in the upcoming leasing rounds.

The Health and Safety Executive in the UK have challenged the industry to meet its obligations concerning the risks of working under suspended loads, as an offshore developer we want to see the OEMs and other partners develop and implement ideas for lifting operations that eliminate those risks.

As a sector, offshore wind has some relatively unique challenges for the installation of wind turbine generator (WTG) parts. Historically, WTG OEMs have typically used human technicians at critical parts of the WTG mechanical assembly process, such as; the nacelle being lifted and secured onto the tower top/ yaw section, the mating of the blades onto the hub and also a much greater degree of larger components being stored en masse on installation barges, jack-ups etc. often stacked in frames, secured by sea fastening etc., which can often require human intervention to perform the release, final alignment and bolt torqueing etc.

As WTGs migrated offshore, these lifts become more complex, larger in scale and subject to vessel movements (if not performed on a jack-up) and the more challenging offshore environmental conditions.

Whilst RRPL expects the leading WTG OEMs to develop its own systems in time, RRPL is also keen to develop new and novel techniques itself to take a more leading stance on helping the industry remove this hazard once and for all from the offshore wind sector and has the ability to offer the successful company potential for testing of prototypes on its onshore and/or offshore wind projects.

The solution should be in line with health and safety requirements legislation in the UK and best practice in the industry. It should focus on the hierarchy of hazard controls in terms of managing and mitigating risks.

Figure 1


RRPL is open to receive proposals from companies who can offer a solution at one or all of the levels illustrated in figure 1, but a preference will be given to solutions who engage further towards the top layers of control. Elimination of the hazard is always preferable. Failing that, substitution for another method (e.g. working with cameras, robots, installation aids in place of humans) would be the next preferred step. The last resort (seen as unacceptable by RRPL) would be the use of engineering controls or RRPL, since both of those would still involve working under suspended loads.

RRPL is inviting open applications for new and novel techniques from within or out with the wind sector that can help RRPL achieve its stated ambition to remove the need for human technicians to work under suspended loads and/or significantly reduce the risk of working near suspended loads.


Functional Requirements  

  • The solution must allow for the safe lifting and assembly of large components offshore and onshore

Technical Characteristics       

  • The solution can comprise hardware or software or a mixture of both. It can be a new and novel application of existing techniques from other industries or can be entirely new and unique and tailored for the offshore wind sector.
  • The solution should not introduce more risks than it removes

Operating Conditions  

  • The solution should be reliable and have redundancy for any primary failure during lifting operations
  • The solution should be designed for an offshore marine environment and if kept on the asset for use during the lifetime, should last for the operating life of an offshore wind farm with minimal refurbishment. If kept only on service or installation/ service vessels, then it shall be designed for minimal servicing.


The Health and Safety Executive in the UK have challenged the industry to meet its obligations concerning the risks of working under suspended loads, as an offshore developer we want to see the OEMs and other partners develop and implement ideas for lifting operations that eliminate those risks.



  • Launch of the Competition: 22nd October 2019
  • Deadline for applications: 13th December 2019
  • Selection and notification of finalists: 6th January 2020
  • Launch Academy starts in February 2020
  • Solutions should be:
    • Fully deployable for prototype testing within 6 months of competition win.
  • Full commercial deployment within 2 years (there are operational sites that a solution could start work on immediately if the system is already commercially available).

Market opportunity   

  • Any solution which achieves the requirements could be become industry best practice and therefore could be adopted across the industry as how to comply with health and safety legislation.


Entrants to this competition must be:


Applications will be assessed on:

  • Relevance to the topic
  • Innovative nature of the subject
  • Coherence of the proposed business model
  • Feasibility/ economic viability
  • Development potential
  • Maturity of project/solution
  • Ability to launch project quickly/Ease of implementation
  • Price/quality ratio
  • Suitability for the UK and European Market

IP and Potential Commercial Route        

  • Existing background IP associated with a potential solution will remain with Solution Provider(s). Where any new IP generation is envisaged, it will be subject to the mutual IP agreement of the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • Any commercial deployment of transferred solution or newly developed solution, through licensing, joint venture, partnership or direct investment, will be subject to the commercial agreement between the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • Where necessary, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) may be signed to uphold confidentiality in the engagement between the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • ORE Catapult do not take any share of IP ownership or enter into commercial venture through the Launch Academy programme.


Apply Now!

If you think your technology is up to the challenge, apply now to join the Launch Academy.

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