UK launches innovation challenge to grow offshore renewables sector

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO), together with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), have invited innovators to identify how marine geospatial data can be used to find suitable sites for offshore wind, and tidal and wave energy infrastructure.

A photo illustration for cardinal buoy at Billia Croo and wildlife observations point (Courtesy of EMEC)
Illustration/Cardinal buoy at Billia Croo and wildlife observations point (Courtesy of EMEC)

As part of the ADMIRALTY Marine Innovation Programme, the latest challenge invites participants to develop solutions that use marine geospatial data to help identify new areas for offshore renewable energy and optimise the performance of existing infrastructure.

To support planners in this sector, access to marine geospatial data is essential to find suitable sites for offshore wind, and tidal and wave energy generation, according to UK government.

Accurate data also helps mitigate potential environmental issues, while ensuring the longevity and optimised performance of these installations.

Throughout the challenge applicants can access a wide range of geospatial and scientific data to help them develop key solutions.

Selected applicants will then get to work alongside experts at both the UKHO and Cefas to develop a prototype product to test with users, the UK government said.

The winner of this challenge will receive a chance to develop an alpha product to test in the offshore renewable energy market, which is estimated to be worth £178 billion, and employ more than 1.5 million people globally by 2030.

Mark Casey, Head of Research, Design and Innovation at the UKHO, said: “The offshore renewables sector is a vital pillar in the blue economy and has an important role to play in the fight against climate change. With significant potential, this sector must be supported with access to data to enable better decision-making.

“The ADMIRALTY Marine Innovation Programme is dedicated to harnessing the power of innovation to explore how data can support ocean sustainability. To achieve this, we must be collaborative. We are proud to partner with Cefas for this challenge and we welcome applications from any organisations with a creative solution for how marine data can accelerate growth in offshore renewables”.

Stuart Rogers, Chief Scientist at Cefas, added: “We recognise the global potential for offshore renewables and are keen to work with the sector to ensure that future development can proceed in an environmentally sustainable way. We believe this project has the potential to accelerate high quality data synthesis relevant to offshore renewables and contribute to the de-risking of future developments, allowing the sector to contribute to meeting the UK government’s targets for renewable energy generation and net zero”.

To participate in this challenge, applications must be submitted by 31 December, 2020.