The Scottish Government announced £2 million in funding this week to encourage innovation in the offshore wind energy sector and to reduce development costs.
Announced on Tuesday at the 2018 Global Offshore Wind Conference and Exhibition by Scotland’s Economy Secretary Keith Brown, the £2 million in funding has been awarded as grants to Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, and the Energy Skills Partnership. The funding is intended to support innovation across the sector to reduce long-term costs, improve health and safety standards, and to widen educational opportunities within the industry.
“Our aspiration is for Scotland to be a great innovator in the offshore wind sector and this £2 million Scottish Government funding will further support the industry,” said Secretary Keith Brown. “Scotland’s Energy Strategy sets out the continuing opportunities for innovation within the offshore wind sector, and this grant demonstrates our determination to help realise that potential, including bringing growth and high value jobs to Scotland’s economy.
“Offshore wind has a key role to play in achieving our ambitious energy targets and delivering a low-carbon energy system. Scotland has massive offshore wind potential and this funding will help ensure that our world-leading offshore wind sector develops successfully and sustainably.”
The funding announcement was unsurprisingly warmly welcomed by the beneficiaries of the funding.
“This latest investment demonstrates the Scottish Government’s confidence in the Offshore Wind Accelerator to deliver on its ambition to lower the cost of energy from offshore wind through industry-led research and development,” said Jan Matthiesen, Director of Offshore Wind at the Carbon Trust.
“ESP is delighted to receive this funding from the Scottish Government, which will have a major impact in supporting Scotland’s colleges in addressing the skills challenges facing the Wind industry,” added Jim Brown, Director of ESP.
Maybe most impressively, however, is the speed with which ORE Catapult has turned its funding around and announced that the £445,000 it received will be used to back a larger £1.3 million program of technology innovation projects it hopes will advance Scotland’s offshore wind sector. The new £1.3 million program is also backed by a further £150,000 from industry partners including Fergusons Marine Engineering, CWind and WOOD, and match-funding from ORE Catapult.
“Innovation is at the heart of ensuring Scotland’s success in the offshore wind sector, and we are delighted to be working in partnership with the Scottish Government,” Andrew Jamieson, Chief Executive of ORE Catapult, said in response to the funding announcement. “This funding will help to improve service vessels, offshore communications, and robotics and artificial intelligence, and ensure that Scottish companies are well placed to take advantage of the job growth, export opportunities and economic benefits that the sector provides.”
Specifically, ORE Catapult’s new £1.3 million program will focus on four separate projects, including next-generation crew transfer and service vessels, a technology accelerator program, investigating alternative communication and remote supervisory systems, and establishing a “Fit for Offshore” business excellence program that aims to enable the Scottish supply chain to access offshore wind commercial opportunities.
“Through these four projects, our team of innovation experts and engineers will work across industry and academia to accelerate commercial technology deployment, de-risk and encourage innovation, develop joint industry projects to address common sector challenges, and work to encourage the cross transfer of technologies from other sectors,” explained Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s Operational Performance Director. “We’ll leverage our existing collaborations with leading industry players such as Vattenfall, Equinor, SSE, EDF Energy and ScottishPower Renewables to provide technical input, commercialisation support and access to Scottish offshore wind demonstration sites.
The Scottish Government’s funding decision was similarly welcomed by offshore wind supporters.
“Scotland is home to approximately 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resource and we are now starting to build out projects which will harness this potential,” said Stephanie Conesa, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, responding to the news. “This money, targeted at supporting innovation to reduce costs, improve health and safety and widen educational opportunities, will help the sector continue to develop, bringing jobs and investment to Scotland and reducing carbon emissions.
“Scotland is already emerging as an international centre for offshore wind innovation and further investment will help this industry grow as new technologies, like floating offshore wind, are developed in our seas.”
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