The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is Carbon Trust's flagship collaborative RD&D programme. Set up in 2008, the OWA is a joint industry project, involving nine offshore wind developers with 77% (36GW) of the UK's licensed capacity, that aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind by 10% by 2015. Cost reduction is achieved through innovation. Technology challenges are identified and prioritised by the OWA members based on the likely savings and the potential for the OWA to influence the outcomes. Projects are carried out to address these challenges, often using international competitions to inspire innovation and identify the best new ideas. The most promising concepts are developed, de-risked and commercialised as the OWA works closely with the supply chain throughout the process.
The OWA model brings together Carbon Trust's expertise in delivering innovation and convening industry consortiums with the industrial partners' technical knowledge and resources. The OWA is two-thirds funded by industry and one-third funded by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The case for offshore wind
The Carbon Trust believes that mass deployment of offshore wind is critical to bridge the UK's energy gap and to meet the UK's targets for security of supply, carbon reduction and renewable energy. To meet the EU's 15% renewable energy target for the UK, over 18GW of offshore is likely to be required by 2020, a 9-fold increase over the 2GW installed to date. Delivering this level of deployment will require cost reduction and the introduction of new technologies to allow wind farms to be installed further from shore and in deeper water where the wind resource is better.
Carbon Trust's analysis suggests that offshore wind has the potential to deliver significant benefits to the UK
- A 7% reduction in UK carbon emissions versus 1990
- A quarter of a million UK jobs by 2050
- Annual revenues of some £19 billion by 2050
Read more in our report Offshore wind power: big challenge, big opportunity (PDF)
The engineering challenge of the decade
Since 2003, just over 600 turbines have been installed in UK waters, nearly all of which are in water depths less than 20m, within 25km of the shore. To get to 18GW by 2020, a further 3,000 turbines will need to be installed.
The new turbines will be larger and more complicated to install, standing in up to 60m of water, as far as 200km offshore.
From the foot of the foundation to the tip of the blade, the structures will be as high as 250m, taller than 30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin) with turbine rotor diameters about 50% larger than the London Eye. These power plants will be installed in large arrays in harsh metocean conditions. The deeper waters will require new foundation designs to be developed. New installation vessels and methods will be required to cope with more distant wind farms in heavier seas, and to deliver faster installation rates. New electrical and cable systems will be required to minimise transmission losses and improving reliability. Larger turbines with more reliable drivetrains will be required to take advantage of the increased wind resource. New wind farm layouts will be needed to minimise the wake effects within these larger wind farms and maximise yields. To meet this challenge, Carbon Trust and the OWA partners are calling on the best minds in the industry to apply their knowledge and skills to make offshore wind a viable commercial proposition.
Where are we now?
In January 2010, The Crown Estate awarded licences to develop offshore wind in nine Round 3 zones in seas around the UK. The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is focussed on overcoming the complexities of constructing and running wind farms in these tough marine conditions. By delivering cost reduction, the OWA will be improving the economics of offshore wind and accelerating deployment.
The Offshore Wind Accelerator is two-thirds funded by industry and one-third funded by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The Carbon Trust's OWA industrial partners are nine international energy companies:
- DONG Energy, leading Danish offshore wind farm developer with over 20 years' experience
- E.ON, Germany's largest utility
- Mainstream Renewable Power, founded by Dr. Eddie O'Connor and Fintan Whelan, the former CEO and CFO of Airtricity
- RWE Innogy, Europe-wide renewables business of the German RWE group
- Scottish Power Renewables, UK's largest onshore wind farm developer
- SSE Renewables (formerly Airtricity), the renewable energy development division of Scottish and Southern Energy
- Statkraft, the Norwegian state owned utility
- Statoil, Norwegian international energy company
- Vattenfall, the owner of the second largest fleet of offshore wind farms in the world
The Government funding for OWA is provided by the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
The OWA Research Development & Demonstration programme is focusing on five areas:
- Foundations - Developing new turbine foundation designs for 30-60m water depths that are cheaper to fabricate and install
- Access systems - Developing improved access systems to transfer technicians and equipment onto turbines for operations and maintenance in heavier seas
- Wake effects - Improving the layout of large wind farms to reduce wake effects and optimise yields
- Electrical systems - Developing new electrical systems to reduce transmission losses and increase reliability
- Cable installation - Improving cable installation methods
These research areas were chosen as they represented the greatest potential for reducing the total cost of constructing, operating, and financing large offshore wind farms.
Learn more about the OWA foundations innovators (PDF 0.1MB) and the OWA access system innovators (PDF 0.5MB).
Progress so far
Stage 1 of the OWA started in October 2008 with 5 Partners. This stage of the OWA primarily consisted of R&D and concept development. The outputs of Stage 1 were presented at the Renewable UK conference in Liverpool (PDF, 1MB).
Stage 2 of the OWA saw the addition of three new Partners, plus our most recent partner in 2012. This stage will run until at least 2014 and focuses on commercialising the most promising concepts from Stage 1, often using demonstration. The first major demonstration project was launched in March 2011 - installing the Keystone 'twisted jacket' foundation to support a met mast at Hornsea, 100km offshore in 30m water depths. Carbon Trust presented latest OWA findings (May 2012) at All Energy in Aberdeen.
Presentations on specific research topics include:
View further information on the Aid Scheme under which Carbon Trust provides Grant funding under Stage 2 (PDF, 194kB).
The OWA is structured around the five research areas described above. Each area is directed by a Technical Working Group (TWG) of relevant experts from the partner organisations. In some cases a Technical Delivery Consultant (TDC), which is an engineering consultancy with expertise in the research area, carries out the projects within the research area. These have included Frazer Nash, Grontmij, GL Noble Denton, J P Kenny, DNV Kema, TNEI and Atkins.
Innovators and designers are managed by the Carbon Trust and the TDC, and a Steering Committee oversees the strategic direction of the programme. This structure is represented in the diagram below.
Technology innovation is the heart of the Offshore Wind Accelerator, and significant cost savings can only be achieved through the creativity and passion of the designers.
The four winners of the OWA Foundation Competition are:
- Keystone Engineering
- SPT Offshore
- Universal Foundation
The 13 finalists of the OWA Access Competition are;
- Autobrow by Otso and Ad Hoc Marine Design,
- LARS by DIVEX,
- TranSPAR by ExtremeOcean,
- Windserver by Fjellstrand,
- TAS II by Houlder and BMT Nigel Gee,
- Wind Bridge by Knud E. Hansen,
- MOTS by Momac,
- Pivoting Deck Vessel by North Sea Logistics,
- L&R by Offshore Kinetics,
- SolidSea Transfer by Strathclyde University,
- Surface Effect Ship by Umoe Mandal,
- Z-Port by Z Technologies.
The OWA Wake Effects research area has worked closely with Ansys and DTU.
Nexans and Prysmian have developed 66kV cable designs for our OWA Electrical research area.
Other offshore wind resources
Leading European offshore wind research organisations include:
- CDT by Strathclyde University
- The Crown Estate
- FLOW@SEA by ECN
- IDCore by Strathclyde University
- NORCOWE by CMR
- NOWITECH by SINTEF
- ORE Catapult by Carbon Trust, Narec and Ocean Energy Innovation
- RAVE by Fraunhofer IWES
- Supergen Wind Consortium by Strathclyde
- SWPTC by Chalmers University of Technology
- VINDFORSK III by Elfork
- VINDVAL (PDF) by Environmental Protection Agency
- WE@SEA by ECN
The Carbon Trust has worked with a number of trade bodies that are focusing on offshore wind:
- Royal Institue of Naval Architects
- Society of Maritime Industries
Details of global offshore wind projects and the supply chain are published by 4C Offshore's website in their Global Offshore Wind Farms Database.
For potential funding opportunities outside of OWA, please see; the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) website, the Offshore Wind Scotland web portal and TP Wind's website.
All tenders will be listed on our tenders page.
For more information on the Offshore Wind Accelerator, please contact Jan Matthiesen