GEV Offshore Gets GBP 50K from SCORE

Grant programme, Supply Chain innovation for Offshore Renewable Energy (SCORE), has awarded over £50,000 to GEV Offshore, one of the UK’s specialist engineering and offshore access companies. This funding will enable the company to take its pioneering habitat structure for the offshore renewable sector to the next phase, and closer to launch.

The maintenance, inspection and repair of wind turbines is a critical component of the offshore wind industry, however these works can currently only be carried out in optimal weather conditions, and with the unpredictable nature of the weather this can present a considerable challenge. With new turbines getting larger and further offshore this challenge is only going to increase, and downtime costs escalate.

The SCORE grant has enabled GEV Offshore to recruit a full time project director to drive forward the habitat venture and bring it to market, as well as assisting in funding the development of a prototype, which will undergo field trials in Q1 2015.

David Fletcher, managing director of GEV Offshore comments: “Habitat structures have worked well in the oil and gas sector for many years and we decided to migrate the idea across to offshore wind. Wind speeds, rain, temperature and humidity all significantly impact on an engineer’s ability to complete scheduled maintenance. However, when you also factor in the length of time it takes to physically get an engineer out to a wind farm, which is often a round trip of several hours, the window of opportunity available to undertake any maintenance is very narrow indeed. Our offshore habitat structure will mitigate the weather risk and enable engineers, once on-site, to work unhindered in a controlled environment.

“The appointment of a full time, dedicated project director wouldn’t have been possible without SCORE funding and having successfully recruited for the position, the project is now moving ahead at a very exciting pace.”

GEV Offshore exhibited and presented its habitat structure to a receptive audience at WindEnergy Hamburg in September.

Mr Fletcher adds: “Our habitat structure was very well received by delegates at WindEnergy; all who really appreciated its potential to alleviate the risks of adverse weather and those all too frequent and frustrating downtime costs. A recent example of this is when the remains of Hurricane Bertha hit the UK in August. Her impact stayed with us for the whole month and for 11 days no maintenance work could be undertaken in the southern North Sea.

“Field owners want to maximise power generation during perceived bad periods of weather, usually October through to April, and stakeholders want to reduce non-productive costs from lost days due to weather stand down. Our habitat structure will be a massive step forward in meeting the needs of both parties.

“SCORE funding has not only helped us financially, but our relationship with the SCORE team has been hugely beneficial in helping us ‘spread the word’ throughout the industry (and OEMs) about our plans and the benefits our structure will bring to the industry.”

The final phase of the process for GEV is to finalise an effective and simple installation method. Once this is achieved, GEV will look to partner with turbine manufacturers with a view to including the habitat structure as an integral element of next generation turbines, working in a similar way as a window cleaner’s platform is installed in high rise buildings.

Richard Salmon, project manager and business advisor for SCORE says: “GEV is one of the leading providers of turbine maintenance and we’re delighted that SCORE funding has enabled them to drive forward such an innovative project, as well as create a new position within the company.

“A key benefit we also bring to grant recipients is the networking opportunities we can broker with others in the sector. Such introductions can lead to a host of opportunities, including research projects, product testing, facilitating development of prototypes and assisting with opportunities for field trials.

“SCORE grants are available until the end of March 2015 and I would urge companies across the East of England with a great idea to benefit the offshore renewable sector to get in touch. We are also interested in hearing from people who require small amounts of funding to get their ideas off the ground as we are able to offer grants from £2,500.”

The SCORE programme delivers a £2.5 million funding investment through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). SCORE grants range from £2,500 up to a maximum of 30% of the project’s eligible costs, or £50,000, whichever is the lower, and are available to all East Anglian based SMEs in the offshore renewable energy supply chain.

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