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Offshore Wind Accelerator

Carbon Trust brings together nine offshore wind developers to work towards reducing the cost of renewable energy.  

Offshore wind accelerator

OWA Partner logos


The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is Carbon Trust's flagship collaborative RD&D programme between the Carbon Trust and nine offshore wind developers that was set up in 2008. The current phase of the OWA joint industry project involves nine offshore wind developers; these OWA partners account for 76% of Europe’s installed capacity. The OWA programme aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind to less than £100 per MWh as well as provide insights regarding industry standard (and best practice) health and safety requirements.

The focus is on improving the economics of offshore wind farms in UK waters through developing innovative technologies that can be deployed in Round 2 extensions, Round 3 and Scottish Territorial Waters projects.

Cost reduction is achieved through innovation. Technology challenges are identified and prioritised by the OWA partners 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 part funded by the Scottish Government with the remaining funding coming from industry.

Read more: European offshore wind developers join forces with the Carbon Trust to slash costs of offshore wind (July 2016)

OWA Structure

Research areas

The OWA is structured around five research areas that are directed by a Technical Working Group (TWG) with relevant experts from each of the OWA partners. The working groups, managed by the Carbon Trust, meet regularly to discuss the challenges in each of the research areas and are updated on ongoing projects. The Steering Committee oversees the strategic direction for the overall programme and is made up of senior representatives from the 9 OWA partners.

Offshore Wind Accelerator research areas

The Carbon Trust manages this research programme in each of the workstreams for the OWA partners; this includes supporting the innovators and designers of new concepts with potential to reduce the cost of offshore wind, management of research projects, running industry competitions, and engaging with the industry.

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 tackling consenting issues within the Offshore Wind Industry. As part of this, the 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.


Floating Offshore Wind

The Carbon Trust are at the forefront of the emerging floating offshore wind sector, having published an industry-leading report - the Floating Offshore Wind Market Technology Review - on behalf of the Scottish Government in 2015. Carbon Trust analysis, based on extensive engagement with technology developers, has highlighted considerable cost reduction potential for floating wind, reaching levels which would be competitive with conventional fixed-bottom wind farms, if commercialised within the next decade.

The Carbon Trust are continuing to work closely with both government and industry in understanding the opportunities and barriers for the sector, both within the UK and internationally. Namely, Carbon Trust have supported government departments in Japan with their cost reduction strategies, including the development of a test site for floating wind and tidal energy devices in Nagasaki prefecture.

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

Vessel and Access Systems

The vessel and access systems Technical Working Group (TWG) focuses on the challenge of getting wind farm technicians from shore or mothership to their place of work on the turbine. The focus is both on current nearer shore wind farms but also for the harsher weather conditions typical for the further offshore future Round 3 wind farm sites.

Access innovation competition

In 2011, the OWA launched the access innovation competition to identify and support a new generation of technology for the OWA partners to safely, cost effectively and reliably access and support their ongoing and future wind farm operations. The competition attracted over 400 submissions. From these submissions, 13 finalists were chosen, including CTVs, access systems, and mothership solutions.

Following on from this competition, there have been notable successes with these concepts now in commercial operation:


The OWA is currently supporting the following concepts:


The Vessel and Access Systems TWG is open and interested in looking at new and innovative methods of accessing wind farm structures. If you have a concept that you would like to share with the Carbon Trust and OWA partners please see here for further details.


Performance plots (P-Plots)

The OWA have developed a new Performance Evaluation methodology to benchmark the vessels used in offshore wind, the Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs).  The methodology and benchmark results are being finalised with the aim of being published end 2016.

Performance plots (Crew Transfer Vessels)

As part of this work, a series of workshops will be organised to explain to the industry and the developers about the purpose and benefits of the P-Plots. The dates are to be confirmed but if interested please contact


Offshore wind vessel sea trials

The OWA has undertaken several sea trials both with conventional vessels to validate the research done on benchmarking vessel performance. As part of the programme, we have also trialled innovative concepts to evaluate their potential of new technology for improving access to the turbines. 

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.


The foundations research area focuses on cost reduction for wind turbine substructures, from fabrication through to decommissioning. Foundations account for approximately 16% of the CAPEX of an offshore wind farm and therefore are a key target for cost reduction within offshore wind. The work to date in the OWA has included the launching of a foundations innovation competition which has resulted in several of these winning designs being installed offshore.

More recently, studies have focused on a more detailed approach to research looking at optimising different processes in foundation installation as well as trials to refine design methodologies and investigate new ways of installing foundations.

For more detail on some of the case studies within foundations please see below.

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:

  • GBF - float-and-sink gravity base structure
  • Keystone Engineering - inward guided batter structure (IGBS) jacket foundation installed with a met mast in the Hornsea Round 3 Zone (press release)
  • SPT Offshore - suction bucket jacket foundation used as the foundation for a single turbine demonstration as part of the Bokrum Riffgrund offshore wind farm project 
  • Universal Foundation - suction bucket foundation installed with two met masts in the Dogger Bank Round 3 Zone (press release)

PISA project

The Pile Soil Analysis (PISA) project is a research project aimed at investigating how monopiles behave in different soil and environmental conditions to refine the design methodologies reducing fabrication costs. The project has been led by DONG Energy through the OWA; collaborating partners include the University of Oxford, Van Oord, Alstom and ESG amongst others.

The project involved large scale field tests of 28 monopiles at two different onshore sites and has shown some very encouraging results which could offer significant improvements to design methodologies.

Vibro Driving project

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

The wakes and wind resource research area investigates the potential to reduce costs in wind resource assessments; at the same time improving their accuracy, health and safety and flexibility. The research also extends to better understanding the behaviour of wakes across the wind farm and improving modelling techniques and whole energy assessments. At the centre of the research is the goal to reduce the uncertainty of wake losses and wind resource assessments, improving the bankability of projects.

Research to date has accelerated the move to LiDAR technologies from met masts. Of particular note has been the pioneering floating LiDAR roadmap which is now recognised as the industry standard definition for floating LiDAR devices. The OWA has also funded and managed several groundbreaking campaigns offshore, including deployment of floating LiDAR and new scanning LiDAR devices.

Further information on case studies within the wakes and wind resource research area is available below.

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.

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 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.

The 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 over 5 GW of energy from offshore wind, generated by 1400 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 part funded by the Scottish Government with the remaining funding coming from industry. 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
  • ENBW, one of the largest energy supply companies in Germany and Europe
  • E.ON, Germany's largest utility
  • RWE International, Europe-wide renewables business of the German RWE group
  • Scottish Power Renewables/Iberdrola, a leading developer of onshore and offshore wind in Europe
  • SSE Renewables, the renewable energy development division of Scottish and Southern Energy
  • Statkraft, the Norwegian state owned utility
  • Statoil, Norwegian international energy company
  • Vattenfall, Swedish state owned company and is one of Europe's largest generators of electricity
OWA Partner logos

The Government funding for OWA is provided by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government

Further information

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

Funding for project: VIBRO RE-STRIKE (PDF)

Funding for project: PROJECT: PISA Layered Soils Extension Project (PISA2) (PDF)

Funding for project: Improved Fatigue Life of Welded Jacket Connections (JACO) (PDF)

Funding for project: Floating LIDAR Demonstration (East Anglia One Limited) (PDF)

Funding for project: Floating LIDAR Demonstration (RWE Innogy GmbH) (PDF)

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)


Do you have an innovative idea or technology that could:

  • Improve Access to offshore wind turbines in harsher weather conditions?
  • Reduce the cost and risk of Cable installation
  • Optimise Electrical components of offshore wind farms
  • Enhance turbine Foundation design, fabrication, installation, maintenance or decommissioning)
  • Improve Wind Resource measurements and modelling

The OWA developers would like to hear from you as part of our continued effort to bring the most promising innovations to market and help reduce the cost of offshore wind energy.


Submission and review process:

  • Send details of your concept / innovation to Carbon Trust using our online contact form and an initial review of innovation / technology will be made.
  • The concept will be discussed with the OWA developers during a TWG meeting and feedback will be given
  • If there is interest in the concept from the developers, you will be invited to attend a TWG meeting to present your innovation and given a chance to discuss the idea directly with the OWA developers
  • The OWA developers will evaluate your concept based on its potential to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy. A decision will be made by the OWA partners on whether and how to support the concept.
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