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RESEARCH AND INNOVATION


FEATURE SPONSOR


REDUCING COSTS AND INCREASING EFFICIENCY


Innovation is vital in driving down costs and increasing efficiency in the offshore wind sector FERN COMMUNICATIONS


SCORE Project Manager Rob Bush


The SCORE grants scheme is a vital catalyst in finding new ideas, technology and systems to help the renewable energy industry as it moves into a busy phase of constructing larger more powerful offshore windfarms.


Its pot of £6m, linked to expert advice,


is turning bright ideas into real-life solutions to challenges facing the sector through research and development. The innovation can be new technology and products or processes and systems which solve a problem or boost efficiency. More than £300,000 worth of second


round SCORE grants have been awarded since the scheme was set up late last summer. The total value of the projects helped is over £780,000. SCORE is also being proactive in encouraging and facilitating innovation through workshops drawing on the expertise of companies to tackle a range of subsea engineering challenges facing the sector. They include oil & gas businesses being encouraged to diversify into renewable energy.


SCORE GRANT CASE STUDIES GREENSPUR


A project to re-think windfarm generators – using new cost-saving materials – has been hailed as a ‘game changer’ for the industry.


A ground-breaking project by GreenSpur Renewables aims to use a ferrites compound rather than traditional Neodymium Iron Boron (NdFeB) in direct drive permanent magnet generators (DD-PMG).


The Southend-based company built a 2KW prototype through an earlier SCORE grant and is using a second injection to build a 50Kw version. It then plans to fast-track development to the 6-15MW range from the early 2020s. Ferrites are abundant, accessible and cheap to source, promising huge savings for the sector. Security of NdFeB is a major risk issue, with most sourced from China and in high demand from other powerful industries, including defence, aerospace and mobile phones. GreenSpur Co-Director Andrew Hine said the SCORE grant had encouraged confidence of private investors. He commented: “As an SME trying to bring an innovation to market, this financial and practical support is invaluable. Without it I doubt that we would have been able to get our project started.”


Rob Bush, SCORE Project Manager, said the project was unique, one of the most exciting “game changers” in current offshore wind research, and would have a huge impact on the cost of offshore wind. He added: “The potential is immense.”


A new radio communications system has been developed to serve the growing offshore windfarm construction industry. WaveCom, a custom-built two-way radio network to provide coverage along the east coast, is being developed by Fern Communications in Lowestoft. The company is providing a system for the Galloper Offshore Wind Farm off Suffolk, but has developed the concept into a radio system than can be used by multiple operators and sub-contractors across a wider area – instead of them each having their own system. Fern managing director Jennifer Cushion explained: “Our radio system will provide the east coast offshore renewables industry with huge efficiency savings. But we could not have done it without the SCORE grant, which is helping us cover the research and development costs, months ahead of income coming on stream.”


SSI


Paramedics who double as technicians are set to be introduced to offshore wind farms. Experienced life-savers are being trained for operational duties on remote turbines so they can carry out a combined maintenance and medical role. They can carry out duties, up to Level 4, such as changing drive trains, greasing blade bearings, exchanging hydraulic motors and annual maintenance. Under the venture, by Hampshire- based SSI Energy, they will also be able to tackle medical emergencies such as strokes and heart attacks as well as traumatic emergencies including fractures and falls from height.


It enables casualties to get expert help in the first ‘golden hour’ which is vital to boosting chances of recovery – particularly with turbines being located further out to sea. SSI managing director Duncan Higham commented: “Windfarms are pretty safe but if someone gets hurt or taken ill it could be a long wait for a helicopter or lifeboat.”


40


www.windenergynetwork.co.uk


SPOTLIGHT ON EAST OF ENGLAND


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