£1 million offshore wind programme launches innovation call

A £1 million research and innovation (R&I) programme is searching for novel solutions to help deliver offshore wind faster, cheaper and at lower risk.

The first in a series of innovation calls has opened for applications, with up to £300,000 available to projects.

The Offshore Wind R&I Programme, delivered by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), based in Orkney, and sponsored by the West of Orkney Windfarm, is exploring ways to overcome specific technical challenges in offshore wind and to embed the economic benefits in the north of Scotland.

A series of innovation calls will address different challenge areas facing the West of Orkney Windfarm, spanning metocean, installation, logistics, and operations and maintenance (O&M).

Last year, the West of Orkney Windfarm secured the rights to an area of seabed from Crown Estate Scotland to develop an offshore wind farm 30 km west of the Orkney Mainland and 25 km north of the Sutherland coast. Once complete, the multi-billion pound project will deliver enough electricity to power more than two million homes, alongside significant social and economic benefits to the north of Scotland.

The R&I Programme will sponsor innovative projects to help the supply chain bring new solutions to market, build operational capacity and scale up activities. Successful applicants may also get support with developing a robust project proposal, accessing alternative grant funding and access to EMEC’s world-leading test and demonstration sites.

The first innovation call is now open and is looking for solutions that address at least one of the following challenges:

  • Understanding metocean conditions at and en route to the West of Orkney Windfarm site, to inform decision making on installation and O&M activities.
  • Design for short weather window installations to maximise opportunities for efficient installation.

The innovation call will close at 1pm, Monday 12 February 2024.

The West of Orkney Windfarm is funding the R&I Programme up to £1 million. A maximum of £300,000 is available for the first innovation call, however additional funding may be made available to those with the potential to have the biggest impact on the wind farm.

Projects must provide a clear and justifiable benefit to the West of Orkney Windfarm and how they may also bring wider benefits across the offshore wind sector, supply chain, and economy in the region.

Applications are encouraged from companies and research institutions in the local community and further afield, nationally and internationally.

Dr Heather Turnbull, Offshore Wind R&I Programme project manager at EMEC, said:

“Working with the West of Orkney Windfarm, we’re aiming to accelerate innovation in the north of Scotland, reducing the time, cost and risk of offshore wind roll out, while enhancing supply chain capacity in the region. This programme aims to help businesses grow and create jobs, bringing skills, capabilities and economic benefit closer to wind farm projects.

“The innovation calls have been designed to support companies explore ways to overcome the technical challenges facing offshore wind developments, giving them the tools needed to help build out offshore wind projects throughout Scotland, the UK and further afield.

“We’re also looking to bring in additional industry sponsors to broaden the remit of the programme to other offshore wind developments across the region.”

Mike Hay, Deputy Project Director at the West of Orkney Windfarm, said:

“We’re really excited to be supporting this EMEC initiative to help deliver the West of Orkney Windfarm safer, faster and at lower cost. We’re also delighted to be helping in the diversification strategy of a major local employer by leveraging EMEC’s substantial experience in the management of innovation programmes into offshore wind.

“Although focussed on the West of Orkney Windfarm, we expect the outputs of this programme to have much wider implications on the delivery of offshore wind projects in challenging marine environments. The Offshore Wind R&I Programme could therefore also help embed a successful supply chain opportunity in Scotland that could go beyond West of Orkney Windfarm to work on projects internationally.”

A webinar will be held on Friday 12 January 2024 at 12 noon to give an overview of the programme, innovation calls and what’s on offer to potential applicants.

Prospective applicants can register for the webinar here: Offshore Wind R&I Programme webinar | 12 January 2024

Full call details can be found on the new Offshore Wind R&I Programme website: www.offshoreinnovation.scot