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Offshore Wind Accelerator

Carbon Trust brings together nine offshore wind developers in a joint industry project to work towards reducing the cost of offshore wind by at least 10% in time for Round 3.

OWA partner logos

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 72% (31GW) of the UK's licensed capacity, which aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind by 10% in time for cost savings to be realised in time for Round 3. 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) and the Scottish Government.

For recent updates on the OWA projects please see our latest newsletters.

Latest newsletters


A high level overview of the programme by project is outlined here (PDF)

OWA Structure

Research areas

The OWA is structured around the five research areas described below. Each area is directed by a Technical Working Group (TWG) of relevant experts from the partner organisations. Innovators and designers are managed by the Carbon Trust, and a Steering Committee of senior representatives from the 9 OWA partners oversees the strategic direction of the programme. 

Consenting issues and ORJIP

In addition to the OWA's work on reducing the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE), the Carbon Trust is actively involved in also tackling consenting issues within Offshore Wind Industry. As part of this Carbon Trust have been leading the Offshore Renewable Joint Industry Programme (ORJIP) since 2013 with the aim of reducing the risk of consenting for Offshore Wind. ORJIP is a separate joint industry programme to the OWA funded by The Crown Estate, DECC, Marine Scotland and 16 offshore wind developers with an interest in the UK offshore wind market. The ORJIP programme promises to address issues with regards to understanding bird displacement and collision avoidance, and mitigating injury to marine mammals. More information on ORJIP.

Common and discretionary projects

There are two types of OWA project; common and discretionary. Common projects comprise the core OWA programme and all OWA partners are involved. Common projects are generally desk based or research studies. Discretionary projects may involve all or just some of the OWA partners, and certain discretionary projects can be open for non-OWA partners to join. Discretionary projects also differ from the common R&D programme as they are generally demonstration projects rather than research studies. For further information on any of the projects below, please contact


All open OWA tenders are listed on the Carbon Trust tenders page


Access innovation competition

In 2011 the OWA launched the access innovation competition which attracted over 400 submissions. From these submissions, 13 finalists were chosen, including CTVs, access systems, and mothership solutions. The 13 finalists of the OWA Access Competition were:

In addition, the OWA have developed a new Performance Evaluation methodology which aims to provide a more comprehensive benchmarking of CTVs. Linked to that the OWA has undertaken several Sea Trials with Innovators as well as created an accessibility tool to evaluate the improved accessibility that new technologies provide.

Cable Installation

Cable Burial Risk Assessment (CBRA)

There are significant advantages in optimising the Depth of Lowering such as reduction in costs associated with less time and, possibly, alternative vessels and equipment required for conducting burial operations, reduction in cable handling during burial operations thus reduction in potential risk of damage etc. The Cable Burial Risk Assessment (CBRA) method is a repeatable process that defines a target Depth of Lowering which is practically and economically achievable whilst providing adequate protection to the cable.   

Electrical Systems

66kV arrays

Moving from 33kV to 66kV arrays presents a number of benefits, including the ability to connect more turbines per string and the possibility to design inter-array networks in ring layouts rather than in radial strings, thus increasing reliability. The OWA managed a number of studies investigating these potential benefits, which eventually led to the launch of the 66kV cable qualification competition and the corresponding discretionary project outlined below.

66kV cable qualification

In order to encourage the development of a competitive 66kV cable market in time for Round 3 projects, the OWA launched a competition for innovative 66kV inter array cables. This resulted in the OWA supporting the testing and qualification of 4 different designs, being developed by JDR, Nexans and Prysmian, with the first cables becoming commercially available from 2015.

OWA competition on innovative grid connection technologies

With offshore wind farms moving further offshore the proportion of the transmission system on the overall cost is expected to increase. The OWA has therefore launched a challenge to the market and seek innovative solutions that could have a significant impact in the lifecycle cost of the transmission system for offshore wind farms.



Foundations innovation competition

In 2011 the OWA launched the foundations innovation competition to help support innovative foundation designs. The four winners (from 104 entries) of this competition were:

Keystone IGBS Met Mast

Offshore demonstration of the Keystone IBGS (Twisted Jacket) concept in a Met Mast scale in Hornsea. The foundations is fully instrumented and the data has proven excellent behaviour of the structure.

Universal Foundation Mono-bucket Met Mast

Offshore demonstration of the Universal Foundation Mono-bucket concept in a Met Mast scale in Dogger Bank. The foundations is fully instrumented and the data has proven excellent behaviour of the structure.

Suction Bucket Trial Installation

Offshore tests to evaluate the installation suction buckets have been successfully completed, with results expected in the coming months.

DONG suction bucket jacket

Installation of a full-scale jacket with buckets, being the first OWA support foundation to reach the prototype stage. The foundation is fully instrumented to validate the design and de-risk the solution.

Vibro Driving

The VIBRO project, led by RWE, benchmarks the performance of vibratory hammers against conventional piling method. Early results appear confirm the benefits of faster installation through the use of vibratory hammers.

Wakes & Wind Resource

OWA measurement campaign at Rødsand II

In 2013, the OWA launched a measurement campaign at the Rødsand II wind farm. The £2m wake effects measurement project has provided detailed measurement data to the wind industry to help better understand how the wind behaves in complex situations offshore. This data is currently being analysed in order to help the industry improve prediction accuracy, reduce financing costs and optimise windfarm layouts. 

Roadmap for commercial acceptance of floating LiDAR

The Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator has published a roadmap for commercial acceptance of floating LIDAR technology. This document explains how measurement uncertainties decrease as a floating LIDAR device moves from Stage 1 (baseline) through to Stage 2 (pre-commercial) and finally Stage 3 (commercial).

Floating LiDAR validation campaigns

Trials of the Babcock and FLIDAR floating LiDAR devices have recently concluded at RWE's Gwynt-y-Môr site on the North Welsh coast. Both trials were successful with both OWA partners and the floating LiDAR suppliers themselves gaining key insights into their devices and have since reached Stage 2 of the OWA Roadmap.

In addition to the Gwynt-y-Môr trials, the OWA has recently launched up to five further floating LIDAR trials in 2015 including FLIDAR, EOLOS and Axys at Neart na Gaoithe, East Anglia and IJmuiden.

Wake model Benchmarking and Development

The OWA wakes and wind resource research area has undertaken a number of benchmarking studies comparing modelled results with measurements from a range of wind farms around Europe. The results of these benchmarking exercises are extremely encouraging and show that the wake loss and AEP predictions created by models match closely the measured data on site.

Key reports and links

Further information

View further information on the Aid Scheme under which Carbon Trust provides Grant funding under Stage 2 (PDF).

View details of 'Ad Hoc' aid granted under the Offshore Wind Accelerator:

Funding for Grouted OPC connections with annuli of large dimension Joint Industry Project (GOAL JIP) (PDF)

Funding for Project: Estimation of soil damping from cyclic testing of piles (PDF)

Funding for Project: Drive‐drill‐drive (D3) pile test (PDF)

Funding for Project: Beamed radar for Energy Assessment and site Conditions (BEACon) (PDF)

Why 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. The UK is currently on its way to reaching 10GW of installed capacity by 2020, through the new Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme introduced early in 2014. With recent allocations exceeding the proposed 800MW by nearly 50% and strike prices fast approaching £100/MWh, positive steps are being made towards bringing down the cost offshore wind.  However there is still a significant amount to be done to reduce costs, particularly with the move further offshore, demanding the introduction of more innovative and resilient technologies in deeper and rougher waters.

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)

Round 3 - The engineering challenge of the 21st century?

The UK currently generates approximately 4 GW of energy from offshore wind, generated by 1200 wind turbines. Installed capacity is currently being generated from Round 1 and Round 2 sites; nearly all of which are in water depths less than 20 m and within 25 km offshore. 2010 saw the announcement of Round 3 sites located up to 200 km offshore in water depths up to 60 m. This has demanded an immense degree of innovation from the industry and Carbon Trust has been committed to accelerating this level of development.

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 are being installed in large arrays in harsh met-ocean 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 are required to minimise transmission losses and improve reliability. Larger turbines with more reliable drivetrains are 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. 

OWA Partners

The Offshore Wind Accelerator is two-thirds funded by industry and one-third funded by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Scottish Government. 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) and the Scottish Government.

Department for Energy and Climate Change

Scottish Government Logo

© 2015 Carbon Trust
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