The Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) has announced that seven companies have been successful in their bid for funding through its first funding competition. In total, the organisation awarded £364,000 in grant funding to a range of projects.
Four companies were successful in their bid to work on pushing forward with cost reduction from advanced manufacturing techniques. Cedeco, Global Energy Group, Magnomatics and W3G Marine are now set to begin working on important UK offshore wind supply chain projects.
Cognitive Business, Sennen Tech and Smart Component Technologies were the other three businesses to receive grant funding. These three companies will be developing advanced sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) and communications solutions for offshore wind.
In addition to the £364,000 of grant funding, an additional £156,000 in leveraged match funding will be provided by the seven companies involved, taking the total amount of money to be spent on these projects to £520,000.
OWGP Programme Director Andrew MacDonald said the competition had been a success, with a high number of applications.
“We received a high number of quality applications, totalling almost £2 million in project costs, demonstrating the huge opportunities to maximise the economic benefits of our world-leading position in offshore wind,” he asserted.
The successful businesses will now work on a range of projects, including remote monitoring of critical fasteners and improving O&M efficiency through improved use of data metrics.
Some of the projects, such as exploring how to apply machine learning in renewables fabrication and a robotic welding feasibility study, will be carried out in collaboration with OWGP’s delivery partners, the National Composites Centre and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
While there is positive work going on, like these projects to make the UK’s wind generation sector as efficient and competitive as possible, there are still stumbling blocks for renewable projects.
Business Green recently highlighted research from Cornwall Insight, which revealed that more than 15GW of the 24.7GW pipeline of renewable energy projects in the UK is classed as ‘awaiting construction’.
The remainder in that pipeline is described as ‘under construction’. However, the firm noted that investors may be being put off from putting their money into some renewable schemes because of concerns over the potential route to market.
According to the analysis, while offshore wind schemes can look for support through the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, other renewable projects aren’t eligible to apply for secure clean power price support using CfDs.
This includes solar projects and onshore wind farms, the news provider noted. As a result, these schemes need to find a subsidy-free route to market. This is even though these power generation projects have the potential to offer “clean power at costs that are lower than current wholesale prices”.
One way in which onshore wind developers have been seeking the necessary financial security is through power purchase agreements (PPAs) with customers that have high energy demands.
However, this is not a solution that is appropriate for every project, and it’s not always straightforward to source PPAs.
Lucy Dolton, an Analyst at Cornwall Insight, commented: “There is little surprise that so much of the total pipeline is awaiting construction - due to the underlying political uncertainty coupled with the lack of available support schemes, dampening investors’ confidence.”
There’s an increasing focus on renewable energy and how the UK can meet its energy needs using these sources, particularly given the worries about the climate crisis.
Offshore wind has long been one of the main components of the government’s plans for the UK’s future energy supply and it’s an area that it has consistently supported.
In October last year, Danish power company Orsted completed the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the Yorkshire coast. The Hornsea 1 wind farm comprises of 174 wind turbines which can generate over 1GW of energy and supply up to 1 million homes.
During construction of the wind farm, the team responsible for erecting the turbines based themselves on site, 120km offshore, to make sure that the project kept safe and remained on schedule in the dynamic weather conditions.
Companies that construct offshore wind farms need to make sure that all their employees who work on-site have obtained the relevant certified training through GWO courses. This includes training on working at height, sea survival, first aid, fire awareness and manual handling as well as in the risks associated with working at an offshore location.
Recently, the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) have released some certified advanced rescue (ART) training program, which provides delegates with the competency to undertake rescues from various parts of a wind turbine and with the industry placing a greater level of importance on remote medicine an enhanced first aid (EFA) training program which ensures delegates hold the competencies to deliver an enhanced level of first aid and trauma.
Some of the new technology being developed through the OWGP funded projects could help to make the offshore environment a safer place, particularly with technology that allows remote monitoring of the turbines and their components.
This could reduce the need to send people to inspect turbines and resulting in contractors only having to work offshore when there are repairs to be carried out manually.
Although the government is continuing to support the offshore wind sector, the Eastern Daily Press reported that it has delayed deciding between whether two of the biggest wind farms in the world can be constructed off the Norfolk coast.
Hornsea Three, which is another wind farm by Orsted, and Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguards Project, are both under consideration and a decision will now be delivered by 1 June.
Kwasi Karteng, Business, Energy and Clean Growth Minister, said that the delay is to “allow further information to be provided and assessed including any further consultation required”.
The newspaper explained that local residents want Vattenfall to reconsider the location they have chosen for the substation for the wind farm, which will connect it to the National Grid.
Jenny Smedley, from the Necton Substations Action Group, told the news provider that they’re pleased they’ve been given more time to “get our point across”.
She explained that the site that’s been selected is “the highest point in the area and it is on a farm that’s very productive”. Her group wants Vattenfall to consider an alternative site on a different farm nearby, which is some 10 metres lower.
Mrs Smedley and other residents spoke to the planning inspector and a representative from the energy company when they visited the proposed site recently. “The planning inspector was very interested in our alternative site,” she said.
Both Orsted and Vattenfall have been supportive of the delay on the decision about their projects, with the companies welcoming the announcement that they will have an answer by the beginning of June.