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Offshore Wind Accelerator competition

Solve the problem of accessing far-shore wind farms and you could land a £2 billion market opportunity.

The competition closes at 1700 on 26 November 2010. Contact us for details on how to register for an information pack.

The winning entries will receive:

1. Funding of up to £100,000 per concept to support the design and development of the successful concepts
2. Potentially several million GBP of funding to take the concepts to full-scale demonstration
3. The opportunity to work with eight leading offshore wind developers with licences for 30GW of offshore wind in UK waters (60% of the UK’s licensed capacity)

Please continue reading for more details about the competition.

This competition forms part of the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA), a collaborative R&D project between the Carbon Trust and eight of the leading international offshore wind farm developers. Our goal is to develop technologies to drive down the cost of offshore wind, focusing on four research areas: , , , and the focus for this competition, .

The OWA access research area aims to challenge the traditional approach to transferring personnel and equipment from vessels to turbines for carrying out operations and maintenance (O&M) activities. This will become increasingly important as wind farms are developed further from shore in harsher sea conditions.

The open competition will identify and develop new access systems to dramatically improve the availability of turbines and the safety of people during the transfer to turbines.

Competition entries can address one or more of the access challenges identified:

– to safely transfer personnel and equipment from vessels to turbines
– to carry personnel and equipment to the turbines
– to allow permanent platforms and motherships housing maintenance crews to launch and recover the vessels to carry personnel to turbines

The United Kingdom (UK) is currently the world's largest producer of offshore wind energy, and expected to remain so for at least the next 10 years. To meet the European Union (EU) 15% renewable energy target for the UK, we expect that as much as 40% of electricity must come from renewables by 2020. Currently, the figure is just 5%, so an eight-fold increase is required.

To achieve this, mass-deployment of offshore wind will be required. We believe that it has the potential to supply 25% of the UK's electricity by 2020.

The wind farms that will be developed next will be larger and further from shore than before. We estimate that as many as 6,000 turbines will need to be installed over the decade. The structures are very large, measuring 220m from the sea bed to the tip of the blade.

At an average of 65km from shore, but extending as far as 285km from the coast, the wind farms will be operating in harsh environmental conditions and so servicing turbines will be challenging. The typical size of a wind farm is expected to rise from 30-100 turbines today to as many as 2,500 per site by the end of the decade, and so new O&M strategies and access systems will be needed to service this number of turbines.

The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator is a ground-breaking research and development initiative focused on strengthening the economics of offshore wind.

The Offshore Wind Accelerator is developing innovative, lower-cost solutions in four research areas:

– developing safer, more effective methods of accessing turbines for maintenance in harsh sea conditions; this will increase availability, allowing more electricity to be generated
– developing novel foundation designs to reduce costs in deeper water and increase installation rates
– improving the accuracy of predicting wake effects to allow wind farm layouts to be optimised and to reduce financing costs
– researching ways to reduce electricity losses both within the array and in transmission to shore

Contact us for more information.

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