UK's Narec to help offshore tech

The UK's National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) has set up a £2.8m ($4.2m) scheme to fast-track grass-roots offshore energy technologies into use off Britain.

The Renewable Energy Technology Accelerator (Reta), a public-private initiative to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the northeast of England move into the emerging renewable energy supply chain, will support three new cost-reduction projects, two in the offshore wind sector and one in tidal power.

Under Reta, IHC Engineering will work with Narec to develop its Hi-Traq inter-array cable trencher for cable-laying between turbines and substations, while Tecnalia is joining forces with PDL Solutions and JDR Cable Systems to design new "smart" cable technology that will improve grid installation, operation and asset management.

The third project, an innovative tidal-turbine nacelle intervention system being advanced with Atlantis Resources, is intended to "significantly reduce" installation and operation costs offshore.

“Narec has created this programme to build on the strengths of local engineering companies," states Narec innovation director Tony Ikwue.

"There will also be knock-on benefits by way of supply contracts and knowledge transfer opportunities for SMEs looking to enter these promising but still relatively immature industries.”  

The Reta projects, slated to run through to March 2015, is expected to provide over 70 regional SMEs with technical and market advisory services to assist them with developing products and services aimed at the offshore renewables industry.  

Narec and the European Regional Development Fund Competitiveness Programme are splitting the cost of the fund.