UK opens its first national robotics center for offshore renewables
The UK’s first-of-its-kind national robotics center for offshore renewable energy has been opened at Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s testing facility in Blyth.
The Digital, Autonomous and Robotics Engineering (DARE) Centre will provide an opportunity for developers, researchers and the wider industry to test, demonstrate and commercialize innovative digital and robotic products and services for the offshore renewable energy market.
The £3 million facility was opened on 18 May by the UK’s Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart.
“I’m delighted to open the UK’s national robotics centre for offshore wind. Drones, robots and underwater vehicles can reinforce the UK’s position as the world leader in offshore wind, make us even more competitive, and keep turbines turning in even the most hazardous of conditions,” Stuart said.
“The robotics centre will increase the safety and productivity of our highly skilled offshore wind technicians, lower costs, and contribute both to lower consumer bills and the nation’s energy security. Technology tested at the DARE Centre will support the expansion of the offshore wind market and turbocharge the success of services and digital infrastructure surrounding the industry.”
The DARE Centre includes a robotics assembly bay, an airborne robotics test zone, three dry docks with 20,000m3 capacity, and test control rooms linked to the docks via a live environment monitoring system.
Enshore Subsea, BeeX, Aspira Aerial Applications, Kinewell, SMD, EnergyVue, Sonardyne, Eleven-I, and Innvotek, displayed their technology solutions at the opening, while the first three have already signed up to test their products at the new center.
“The DARE Centre is a fantastic facility that will help the UK stay at the forefront of innovation in robotics, AI and digital solutions to support the growth of offshore renewables,” said Andrew Jamieson, Chief Executive at ORE Catapult.
“Innovation we can unlock here will allow those at the cutting edge of offshore wind development to work faster and safer, optimise specialist skills, improve reliability, and reduce the carbon footprint of the next generation of offshore wind farms.”
The center has been funded through UK Government’s Getting Building Fund, managed in the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) and Innovate UK.