As offshore wind farms are built further out to sea, developers are looking to new cost-cutting technologies developed for the less mature wave and tidal industry.
In return, growing wave and tidal developments are taking ideas that have dramatically reduced the bottom-line in offshore wind installation and project delivery.
Sharing innovation, systems and practices proven to bring down costs between the two “exciting sectors” – both world leaders in their technologies – will contribute to increasing supply of both into the national grid, an event to explore the synergies between the two sectors was told.
In the week a report stated that tidal energy could cut costs to £90 per MWH and up to 4,000 jobs could be created within wave power energy, the second of a series of events to encourage greater cross-sector collaboration between offshore wind and other sectors was held at OrbisEnergy in Lowestoft.
Sponsored by Innovate UK and supported by SCORE – Supply Chain Offshore Renewable Energy – grant fund, that supports innovation designed to make offshore renewables cost less, the breakfast seminar included speakers from RenewableUK, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult – SCORE’s partners – and James Fisher Marine Services.
RenewableUK’s Programme Director Dujon Goncalves-Collins told delegates that the power sector was undergoing rapid change, with renewables playing a central role in the decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation of the modern energy system.
The “two exciting sectors” were both global leaders with lessons to share.
“30% of the UK’s electricity is already being generated by renewables – half of which comes from wind,” he said.
“Our vision for 2030 is to increase the UK’s offshore wind capacity to 30GW, employing 27,000 people especially in coastal communities, and increasing our export value five-fold to £2.6 billion a year.
“The UK is also a world leader in wave and tidal energy with ground-breaking projects and globally-renowned testing facilities”.
The North Sea offered perfect conditions for offshore wind but, when it comes to exporting technologies, the US and Taiwan presented complex installation challenges where ideas from wave and tidal could be adapted to wind.
While wave and tidal projects might not be developed in the East of England, with the south-west and Scotland as centres, there were opportunities for the supply chain and service sector in the sector, which offered huge potential for many years.
Steve Jermy, Chartered Marine Renewables Technologist & Head of Offshore Aviation for world leading tidal and wave energy installers, James Fisher Marine Services, said offshore wind could learn from the systems approach of the tidal industry.
The use of operations simulation software, such as James Fisher’s Mermaid ® package, allowed project developers to develop a high-quality understanding of the costs associated with their offshore operation, he said
“Whenever we are doing an operation, we simulate it. It allows us to calculate the cost and time that an offshore operation takes, and to understand the weather risk.
“We use the offshore operations simulation software in a number of ways, including front-end engineering design, feasibility work, bid preparation, offshore operations R&D simulations. We are also using this now to better understand how best to fit helicopters into offshore wind projects.”
“Using operational simulation Mermaid, we work out the best way to put technology into the water. A significant proportion of CAPEX in any offshore renewable project is for installation costs, so doing it in the most economical way makes sense.”
A lesson from offshore wind to tidal energy was the development of bespoke installation vessels and subsea tools that offered the opportunity for significant cost reductions:
“The HF4 vessel will allow us to reduce the cost of the offshore operation in large-scale tidal energy installations by as much as two thirds.”
Delegates were told how SCORE offered grants up to £50,000 for SMEs’ ideas contributing to the reduction of costs in offshore renewables and heard from Simon Cheeseman, of SCORE partner ORE Catapult.
Johnathan Reynolds, Business Development Lead at OrbisEnergy, said the potential scale of wave power alone had been an eye-opener for delegates.
“Sharing technologies between different forms of offshore renewables might sound obvious but it is only by bringing the sectors together and discussing what has been proven to work, do other sectors get exposure to certain technologies, experience and ideas.”
“Our next session will explore the synergies between offshore wind and space, which is provoking much intrigue to find out what each can learn from the other moving forward.”
* Offshore Wind Meets … Space is on the 30th May at OrbisEnergy. Ian Downey, UK Ambassador, ESA Business Applications from the European Space Agency (ESA) will give an overview of ESA’s Business Applications funding programme, the potential roles for space in offshore energy and share case studies from previously funded activities and what lies ahead.