The team behind the GBP 6 million SCORE grant fund is looking to support companies from the oil & gas industry that can bring new ideas for long-term offshore asset management in the offshore wind sector.
So far, more than 100 businesses have benefited from grants and advice from the multi-million pound programme backing innovation in the offshore renewable energy industry. The SCORE grant fund has supported a project spend of more than GBP 2.6 million to help develop inventions and new ways of working to bring down costs further in the offshore wind sector, awarding from GBP 2,700 to GBP 50,000 for new ideas for turbine development and offshore wind farm assembly, installation, construction and commissioning.
SCORE programme manager, Rob Bush, said that the SCORE fund was moving into a new phase as the offshore wind industry matured.
“We are looking for ideas and solutions for management efficiencies of offshore wind farms as individual assets, operations and maintenance and decommissioning. The industry has done brilliantly cutting its costs by nearly 50% in just two and a half years by innovation and new business models,” Rob Bush said. “A focus now is on targeting the oil & gas industry for ideas shaped by its experience of long-term offshore asset management, like vessel sharing, vessels staying out at sea longer to save time and money and efficiency ideas to make wind farms more productive with less downtime.”
The East of England has the biggest pipeline of new build projects in the world, with the development of ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia Array and Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas ahead, according to Bush, who added that operational wind farms such as Sheringham Shoal and Greater Gabbard now needed a long-term approach to be viewed as giant power plants rather than collections of individual turbines.
“We are especially looking for ideas for maturing wind farms. The experience and asset management integrity of the oil & gas industry can really help the offshore wind industry, as it moves to asset management as wind farms move out of their warranty,” Bush said. “When wind farms move out of maintenance warranty, usually five years after inauguration, operators had greater flexibility about how they operated and maintained their wind farms and investigate different technologies and companies to come up with new solutions and processes.”
The SCORE programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is open to companies with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than EUR 50 million.