UK backs offshore wind cost-cutters

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has handed out more than £4m ($6.6m) to four technology companies angling to slash the cost of offshore wind energy.

The grants, awarded under DECC’s Offshore Component Technologies Scheme, have been awarded to 2-B Energy, High Voltage Partial Discharge (HVPD), SgurrControl and Ocean Resource.

“The UK is already the world leader in offshore wind – with more deployed than any other country," says energy and climate change minister Greg Barker.

“The benefits that offshore wind can bring are clear – from enhancing our energy security, reducing our dependence on imports and helping reduce our carbon emissions. Innovation is critical to cutting the cost of this low-carbon power source."

UK-Dutch outfit 2-B Energy, which is backed by finance from Truffle Capital, PPM Oost and Shell, Rabobank, Agentchap, and Scottish Enterprise as well as DECC, has been awarded almost £2.8m to fine-tune its novel two-bladed turbine with trussed steel foundation concept.

The design, calculated to cut the levelised cost of offshore wind energy by up to 35%, will be prototype tested onshore in the Netherlands first, followed by further trials offshore at Methil, Scotland. 

HVPD, working with Alstom Grid, the University of Strathclyde and a number of European HVDC cable operators, won just over £900,000 to develop and trial a new type of monitoring technology that flags up faults in high-voltage direct current cables.

SgurrControl pocketed £667,000 for a control system, being developed with Romax and Blaaster Wind Technologies, designed to extend the life-time of wind turbine rotors by lessening loads carried by the blades.

Ocean Resource has been awarded £216,000 to flesh out an offshore wind turbine concept that is assembled and commissioned on-shore and towed fully assembled for site installation using tugs.

The UK government targets paring down the cost of offshore wind energy to £100/MWh by 2020. The current figure hovers around the £140/MWh mark.