A new five-year £2 million partnership between the University of Hull and Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult will see a new offshore wind operations and maintenance Centre of Excellence in the Humber area.
The aim is to carry out research and innovation projects to help improve the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms, while building on the region’s location, energy heritage and experience of servicing offshore wind farms here in the UK.
The Centre will be based at the university, with the first task being to engage with the industry and the supply chain to help develop a roadmap for operations and maintenance research and development.
ORE Catapult’s Operational Performance Director, Chris Hill, explained that nearly a quarter of the lifetime costs of offshore wind farms is made up of operations and maintenance activities. And the East Coast and Humber Estuary have lots of invaluable experience when it comes to servicing offshore wind farms, helping to establish this part of the UK as a true centre of excellence by not only servicing wind farms in the country, but also export to the international market.
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Hull, Dr David Richards commented “The recent dramatic drop in the price of electricity generation from offshore wind, which has halved in two years, has demonstrated that the industry is a core part of the country’s energy mix.
“Research and innovation in operations and maintenance are essential to maintaining the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore wind and this new Centre of Excellence will be key to establishing an anchor for the industry as a whole.”
A recent report from ORE Catapult, published back in March, revealed the massive economic benefits of having a robust offshore wind industry here in the UK, which could be worth up to £2.9 billion to the economy come the year 2030.
The paper shows that the economy is already doing well off the back of a maturing offshore wind sector, but figures indicate that continued cost reduction and increasing amounts of projects being commissioned and developed will drive a big rise in the economic return for the country.
Chief Executive of ORE Catapult Andrew Jamieson noted that with continued support and investment, the offshore wind industry in the UK can deliver a lot more than it already has. Innovation in technology in supply chain areas like offshore wind turbine blades and foundations, as well as focusing on skills development, will help the economy through the possible export of services, products and skills on a global scale.
Renewable energy is certainly the focus for the UK at the moment, so it would seem, with a recent report from law firm TLT revealing that renewable energy investments last year rose from £3.1 billion to a record £6.6 billion – with offshore wind projects helping to drive a 112 per cent hike.
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