Energy minister experiences offshore wind innovation in action with demonstration tour aboard air cushion access vessel

This innovative design uses air cushion technology to dampen out motions in rough seas, enhancing comfort for crew and passengers. This allows for improved access to offshore wind turbines in harsh weather conditions, at the same time saving fuel consumption.

The development of the Sea Puffin 1 has been supported through the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, a collaborative research and innovation programme part-funded by the Scottish Government, with remaining funding coming directly from nine offshore wind developers. The 15-metre long daughter craft – designed by the Norwegian company, ESNA – can be launched from aboard a larger mother ship. It is owned and operated by WindPartner, a company that specialises in operations & maintenance for the offshore wind industry.

After the vessel’s successful first stage of trials in Denmark, the second phase is looking at performance in more exposed offshore conditions that are typically found further out to sea. These are being conducted at Equinor and Masdar’s Hywind Scotland Pilot Park, the world’s first commercial floating offshore wind farm, located 25 kilometres off the coast of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said:

“I’m delighted that Sea Puffin has been supported through the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, which was part-funded by the Scottish Government. Mechanisms like this help support and grow the renewables sector.

“Having been out on a vessel, I have to say it was a very smooth and enjoyable experience. Given the weather conditions Scottish seas can experience the Sea Puffin will clearly bring benefits to those needing to visit or access offshore wind farms with consequential benefits for operation and maintenance activities.

On top of that, they’ll make savings on fuel costs through operating as a ‘daughter-craft’ and this could become particularly important as we explore development of sites further offshore around Scotland’s coasts. ”

Dan Kyle Spearman, Manager of Offshore Wind Access Systems, the Carbon Trust, said:

“With the right support, innovative ideas can be quickly become reality. We provided initial support for the “Sea Puffin” back in 2016 and today it is exciting to see a state-of-the-art vessel in operation, proving what it can really do. The results so far are promising, with these continuing trials reducing risk and making sure that the vessel meets the needs of developers. Thanks to continued support from the Scottish Government and offshore wind developers we are developing the innovations needed today to help cut costs and improve operations and secure a thriving offshore wind industry in Scotland and beyond.”



Notes to editors

Pictured above: Anders Wikborg (Marine Operations Manager, Offshore Wind, Equinor), Jan Matthiesen (Director of Offshore Wind, the Carbon Trust), Paul Wheelhouse MSP (Minister Energy, Connectivity & the Islands, Scottish Government), Dan Kyle Spearman (Manager Access Systems, Offshore Wind Accelerator, the Carbon Trust).

About Sea Puffin 1

The Sea Puffin 1 was built at Esbjerg Shipyard in Denmark, and delivered to independent ship-owner WindPartner. ENOVA and Innovation Norway also supported the construction phase. Support was also provided by the Regional Research Council Agder (RFFAgder) and The Sørlandet Knowledge Foundation (SKF).

About the Offshore Wind Accelerator

The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is Carbon Trust's flagship collaborative RD&D programme. The joint initiative was set up between the Carbon Trust and nine offshore wind developers in 2008. The current phase involves nine offshore wind developers; these OWA partners account for 76% of Europe’s installed offshore wind capacity. The OWA programme aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind to be competitive with conventional energy generation, as well as provide insights regarding industry standard (and best practice) health and safety requirements.

The OWA 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 EnBW, E.ON, Equinor, innogy SE, Ørsted, Scottish Power Renewables/Iberdrola, SSE Renewables, Shell and Vattenfall Wind Power.