Government sets up offshore renewable energy centre

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The location of a new £50m centre designed to accelerate the commercialisation of green technologies was announced by the business secretary Vince Cable today.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult will be headquartered at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, with an operational centre at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in the north east of England.

According to the department for business, innovation and skills (BIS), the national centre will focus on technologies for offshore wind, wave and tidal power and is designed to bridge the gap between university research and full commercialisation. It will have a UK-wide remit and will build links with other centres of excellence, including Wave Hub and the marine energy park in the south west of England.

Speaking at the launch of the Catapult in Glasgow, Cable said: ‘Our offshore renewable sector can compete on a global scale and has huge potential for growth. If we can harness that, we will generate billions of pounds for the economy while creating thousands of job opportunities at the same time.’

Today’s announcement is part of the government’s investment in a network of Catapult centres across a number of sectors.

The £140m High Value Manufacturing Catapult is now operating across seven locations around the UK. A £50m Cell Therapy Catapult will be established in London and a Satellite Applications Catapult and a Connected Digital Economy Catapult will be set up later this year.

The Catapult centre programme is managed by the Technology Strategy Board as part of a wider support package for innovation.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: ‘Our reputation and expertise in offshore engineering, gained through many years of commercial North Sea oil activity, makes the UK an excellent base for innovation relevant to the emerging offshore renewable energy sector.

‘The generation and supply of renewable energy is now a major component of global energy and economic policies. UK businesses have an opportunity to be a significant part in this global industry.’

Cable announced the decision to create an Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in May 2011. It is expected to be open by summer this year.

The centre will be delivered by a consortium comprising the Carbon Trust, Narec and Ocean Energy Innovation.