Companies compete to develop transfer to offshore wind farms

More than 600 organisations have registered for a Carbon Trust competition to develop technologies for transferring engineers and equipment safely from boats to offshore wind turbines.

According to the clean-energy organisation, registrations include more than 300 from the UK, 120 from North America and 110 from continental Europe, including 35 from Norway.

The global market opportunity for access solutions for deeper-water offshore wind environments is estimated to be worth more than £2bn by 2020 and, according to Carbon Trust research, the UK market alone could account for up to 50 per cent of that.

Companies from the oil and gas, ship building, marine engineering and aerospace industries have registered, alongside a number of universities. But with only two weeks to go until the application deadline, the Carbon Trust is calling for more entries with a specific focus on organisations from south-east Asia.

Offshore wind acceleration manager Phil de Villiers said: ‘We’ve had a terrific response from companies based in Europe and North America. However, we believe there may be technologies from the oil and gas sector in south-east Asia that could be applicable to the offshore wind market.

’In these regions transfers from marine vessels to oil and gas platforms are far more common than in Europe or the US, where helicopters are normally used. The competition is looking for the very best ideas from around the world to help drive forward the UK’s offshore wind industry and we are encouraging more organisations to put their ideas forward before the competition deadline closes on 26 November.’

He added: ‘We’ve already seen some very credible and innovative ideas submitted and the breadth of interest has been staggering. We’ve even had an entry from Nepal, a land-locked country not well-known for its maritime engineering industry.’

The next generation of ’Round 3’ offshore wind farms, to be constructed from 2014, will consist of as many as 1,500 turbines, located up to 300km offshore where sea conditions are challenging. Developing new systems to enable safe transfer to a turbine in 3m significant waves will allow wider maintenance windows, so increasing turbine-operating hours and improving the overall economics of the wind farm.

Turbines are typically available to generate electricity for 90 per cent of the time and the competition aims to generate at least a four per cent increase, equivalent to saving £3bn of lost revenue and a 1.3Mt CO2 reduction each year.

The winning applicants to the competition could receive up to £100,000 to support the design and development of each successful concept; the opportunity to work with eight offshore wind developers with licences to develop 30GW of offshore wind capacity in UK waters (representing 60 per cent of today’s licensed UK capacity); and potentially several million pounds of funding to take the concepts to full-scale demonstration.

Companies interested can submit their designs until 17:00, 26 November by visiting e-mailing