Developer Vattenfall and government-industry body the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult have launched a £1.5m ($1.9m) programme to trial new technologies at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) off Scotland.

The three-year scheme is targeting key operations and maintenance (O&M) challenges in areas including blade repair, robotics and autonomous systems and remote array cable monitoring and inspection. Selected companies will have the opportunity to demonstrate their technologies at the EOWDC – the 93.2MW offshore wind farm brought online last year after a long legal battle with US President Donald Trump.

“It’s with innovation – proved in the stormy seas off the Aberdeenshire coast – that the offshore wind industry will make a crucial contribution to net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Vattenfall UK country manager Danielle Lane. “This programme makes broader thinking real by giving talented innovators from across the UK the chance to test the potential of their creations in the best possible environment – the real world.

“And innovation is more easily made commercial in a positive policy framework. That’s why the offshore wind sector deal [the partnership between the UK government and the industry designed to spur build-out 30GW of capacity by 2030], is so important to securing the long-term potential of the innovation we will see tested at the EOWDC.”

Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s operational performance director, added: “Accessing real-world opportunities to test, demonstrate and validate their technologies is often a real barrier to commercialisation for small innovators.

“This investment should give UK companies a crucial edge in developing technology and services for the new wave of offshore wind developments and help the UK government to meet its target of generating at least a third of the UK’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030.”