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Oceans of opportunity in the hunt for greener energy

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Wind, wave and tides wait for no one

Offshore wind turbine

For me, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in the offshore renewable energy industry.

Huge progress is being made to drive down costs, and offshore wind, in particular, is now being seen as a real low carbon alternative to more conventional sources of energy generation.

Offshore power stations are bigger, better and more reliable than ever, and technology development and innovation is driving real economic benefit, albeit there is more to do.

The wave and tidal sectors have had a bumpier ride, but considerable progress is still being made and the potential opportunities remain well worth the pursuit.

There is no room for complacency however, with much work still to be done, and as the CEO of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, I get to be right in the thick of the fight.

I am surrounded by a committed, professional and passionate team who share my vision of generating low cost electricity from offshore renewables, and have some of the most impressive renewable test and demonstration assets anywhere in the world.

Technology innovation

As an engineer by trade, it’s the big bits of kit that really excite me. At our National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland, we’re testing blades longer than the wing span of an Airbus A380, and weighing approximately the same as 15 family cars.

In Fife, we’re operating a turbine that’s taller than London’s Gherkin building. And we are at the forefront of technology innovation that has the potential to transform our industry, such as 66 kV electrical systems and floating wind turbines.

The Catapult’s assets and expertise make a real impact not only on industry, but also the communities in which we work.

The Levenmouth turbine – it’s pretty impressive!

On February 29th, we brought together industry leaders and many of the most senior and influential academics from some of Europe’s top research institutes to Fife. They came for the official inauguration of our next generation 7MW offshore wind research and demonstration turbine, so they could see for themselves the sheer scale of the asset, and the huge opportunities it presents.

It’s fair to say, they were impressed with what they saw!

The turbine will allow us to develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of technologies, as well as the operations and maintenance aspects of offshore wind turbines, contributing to further cost reduction and SME growth and development.

Skills development at Levenmouth

This turbine also allows us to step outside of the traditional remit of the Catapults, and into the area of skills development. We will work with partners to develop a world-leading local skills and training agenda, with the turbine at the heart of a vibrant research hub, which will help to position Levenmouth as a global centre of excellence in offshore wind.

The exporting of skills and engineering know-how has the potential to contribute billions of pounds to the UK economy. We can take advantage of not only the turbine, but of the Catapult’s wider assets, capabilities and activities, to work with local authorities and skills development bodies to complement and enhance the offshore renewables and engineering curricula.

So, what gets me out of bed in the morning? Well, if you had all this to look forward to, wouldn’t you?

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