GE Renewable Energy announced on Wednesday that it has signed a £9 million ($11 million) four-year research partnership with the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult intended to minimize the time people need to spend offshore, which will both enhance safety and reduce operating costs for the offshore wind industry.
The UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult program bills itself as the country’s leading technology innovation and research center for offshore renewable energy. Founded in 2013, ORE Catapult works with OEMs and other large industrials to improve existing infrastructure and develop the next generation of renewable energy technology. GE Renewable Energy has been working in partnership with the Catapult since the beginning of 2018, when GE signed a five-year research and development agreement with the Catapult to test GE’s mammoth 12 megawatt (MW) Haliade-X wind turbine at the Catapult’s Blyth test facility.
This latest research partnership between the two organizations is intended to launch focused technology innovation challenges to the UK Small to Medium Enterprises and academic community, in fields such as robotics, blade and tower inspections, and repair processes.
“We are a nation of innovators and this latest £9 million research partnership between GE Renewable Energy and the Government’s ORE Catapult is a fine example of how we’re working with industry to embrace cutting-edge technology to ensure the UK offshore sector stays ahead of the pack,” said the UK’s Minister for Energy and Clean Growth Claire Perry. “As part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re putting the finishing touches to our Offshore Wind Sector Deal to create the right business conditions to export this type of expertise around the world to ensure this sector goes from strength to strength.”
The new research £9 million ($11 million) partnership has been dubbed the “Stay Ashore!” program and is intended to provide new digital and service solutions for operating and maintaining wind turbines remotely. This, in turn, will serve to reduce the operating costs of offshore wind, which will trickle down and benefit electricity consumers. The Stay Ashore! program is built on three pillars:
- Reliability by design, which is primarily focused on the validation of key wind turbine components
- Enabling full remote operability and troubleshooting of the turbines through advanced digital functionality, to reduce the need to go offshore for unplanned events
- Use of robotics for planned maintenance events, specifically repetitive tasks, inspection activities as well as activities in areas that are difficult to access
“This further strengthening of ORE Catapult’s partnership with GE Renewable Energy will see significant investment in nationally important R&D, growing not only our expertise but providing opportunities for the UK supply chain to capture domestic and international market share in an offshore wind market expected to be worth £30 ($39) billion per year by 2030,” said ORE Catapult Chief Executive, Andrew Jamieson.
“By eliminating unplanned offshore human intervention through increasing productivity with digital and robotic tools, in addition to our Haliade-X 12 MW performance and design features, we will contribute significantly to reducing the cost of offshore wind energy,” added John Lavelle, president & CEO of GE’s Offshore Wind business.