In 10 years, the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) has run over 150 projects supporting innovations that have led to both a significant reduction in the cost of energy and risk, whilst making offshore operations safer. To mark this milestone in R&D collaboration, we have selected 10 high impact innovations to showcase the breadth and depth of the programme.
The structure of the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is in itself, an innovative approach. It is unprecedented for developers who are ordinarily competitors in the commercial field to come together to work collaboratively with equal voices in prioritising innovation projects. Pooling public and private financing, the platform born out of this collaborative approach allows for the rapid sharing of knowledge.
Technical innovations require the right ecosystem, institutions, and communication channels to change market conditions. By providing this platform, the OWA enables the sector to develop faster for five key reasons:
As a developer led programme, the OWA accelerates innovation by identifying the most pressing industry challenges and addressing them through mechanisms such as international competitions, demonstrations and competitive tenders. The OWA provides a forum for better understanding market needs, and offers manufacturers greater confidence on market deployment which speeds up development. The results, such as Sea Puffin, the Floating LIDAR, and enhanced foundation design, have been fundamental in making offshore wind competitive with conventional energy generation.
The market driven approach and collaborative identification of mutual challenges has ensured effective spending of public and private funding and the avoidance of duplicating R&D efforts. Combining funding from individual partners alongside government funding delivers greater impact than individual efforts alone.
In the absence of standards, developers naturally take an overly conservative approach to mitigate the heightened risk that comes with uncertainty. The OWA has been instrumental in developing industry standards (PISA, CBRA, Floating LIDAR Roadmap) to provide efficiencies and cost reduction without compromising on safety.
A unified voice of multiple developers gives suppliers the confidence they need to look at new technology and invest in its development. For example, this was instrumental for the development and the adoption of high voltage (66kV) cabling connecting wind turbines.
As a flexible programme, the OWA addresses whole industry challenges while also allowing the delivery of large-scale demonstration projects reflecting the priorities of individual developers.
Over its first ten years, the OWA has proven what collaborative learning and investment can achieve even in an increasingly competitive environment. It is a technology and innovation accelerator with a proven track record.
This article is part of 10 years, 10 innovations: A summary of the impact of the Offshore Wind Accelerator