The industry objective of minimising costs and risks requires innovation to play a central role in the development of offshore wind. Scotland has long been a hot-bed of invention, exploration and discovery. We do more research per head of population than anywhere else, and Scotland is, unsurprisingly, the top location for R&D in the UK. This leading role extends to offshore wind.
Scottish Energy Laboratory
The Scottish Energy Laboratory (SEL) gives national and international companies access to Scotland’s key energy test and demonstration capabilities.
The SEL was launched in 2011 and has a combined investment value of some £250m across all key energy sectors. It includes capabilities like the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, International Technology & Renewable Energy Zone (ITREZ) in Glasgow, the Energy Technology Centre in East Kilbride, the Hydrogen Office at Energy Park Fife and the Energy Technology Partnership across 12 Scottish Universities.
SEL can help identify test facilities and services such as:
- Wind tunnels and wave tanks
- High voltage network connection
- Mechanical testing of large components
- Performance testing of energy conversion and storage technologies
- Electrical testing of motors, generators and power electronics
With the government, the public sector and industry working in partnership, Scotland is a global leader in innovation with test and demonstration sites across Scotland being made available to help develop new offshore wind technologies. Sites such as this are particularly useful for testing novel foundation designs and advances in turbine technology.
An early example is the Talisman Beatrice Deepwater Offshore Wind Demonstrator Project which became operational in 2007. More recent developments include the testing of Siemens’ 6MW direct drive machine at Hunterston - the UK’s first onshore test site for offshore turbines. Meanwhile, Samsung has been testing its 7MW turbine at Fife Energy Park.
Offshore Wind Accelerator
The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is a collaborative R&D programme between the Carbon Trust, DONG Energy, Mainstream Renewable Power, RWE Innogy, ScottishPower Renewables, SSE Renewables, Statkraft, E.ON and Statoil that aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind by 10%.
The focus is on improving the economics of offshore wind sites in UK waters over the decade with technologies that can be deployed in Round 2 extensions, Round 3 and Scottish Territorial Waters projects.
Scotland is home to the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult - a UK wide technology, innovation and knowledge centre established in Glasgow by the Technology Strategy Board. The Catapult provides market access for SMEs and new technologies whilst aiming to drive greater efficiency to deliver affordable, renewable energy.