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ORE Catapult and the University of Hull join forces to drive forward UK’s offshore wind industry.

A new £2 million collaboration between the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and the University of Hull will see the launch of an offshore wind Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Centre of Excellence in the Humber region.

The five-year partnership will see a series of research and innovation projects developed to improve the way that offshore wind farms are operated and maintained, building on the region’s energy heritage, location and experience of servicing UK offshore wind farms.

Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s Operational Performance Director, said: "Operations and maintenance activities make up almost a quarter of the lifetime costs of an offshore wind farm, and provide a huge opportunity for UK companies to supply their products and services. The East Coast, and particularly the Humber Estuary, has extensive experience of servicing offshore wind farms and that experience is invaluable as we look to build expertise and a local supply chain, establishing the region as a real centre of excellence that can service UK offshore wind farms as well exporting to the fast growing international market."

Dr David Richards, Pro vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise for the University of Hull, added: "This collaboration between the University and ORE Catapult is a step change for the Energy Estuary and the UK’s offshore wind industry as a whole. The recent dramatic drop in the price of electricity generation from offshore wind, which has halved in two years, has demonstrated that the industry is a core part of the country’s energy mix. Research and innovation in operations and maintenance is essential to maintaining the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore wind and this new Centre of Excellence will by key to establishing an anchor for the industry as a whole."

The Centre will be based at the University of Hull with the University’s researchers working alongside the Catapult’s innovation team. Its first task will be to engage with industry and the supply chain to develop a series of feasibility studies and define a roadmap for O&M research and development.

Matthew Wright, DONG Energy’s UK Managing Director said: "We are committed to the Humber region and are currently expanding our operations and maintenance base in Grimsby. Our recent decision to go ahead with Hornsea Project Two will bring further economic growth to the area. This project will be built at the lowest cost ever for a UK offshore wind farm, and this dramatic reduction in costs is thanks to close collaboration between industry, academia and governments.

"This Centre of Excellence is another example of collaborative working to further lower the cost of offshore wind and we are looking forward to seeing the innovations that will come as a result."

Clark MacFarlane, Managing Director of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy UK, added: "The Humber is a key location for Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy’s offshore wind operations, both as a centre for blade manufacturing, as well as a base for our assembly, installation and some O&M service facilities. The establishment of the O&M Centre of Excellence is a valuable addition to the growing offshore wind industry regionally, nationally and globally and provides an excellent opportunity for innovation and collaboration across the O&M supply chain."

Chris Hill continued: "ORE Catapult has a strong track record in delivering operations and maintenance innovation and research activity through projects such as SPARTA, our series of O&M case studies and our industry forum. This, combined with the University of Hull’s academic expertise, particularly in the areas of logistics, human behaviour and subsea environmental science, will enable us to deliver world-leading projects designed to transform the way offshore wind farms are operated and maintained."

Dr Richards added: "Industry, through the Catapult, the University of Hull and other academic institutions as well as government need to work together to continue to solve the challenges that the industry faces. These must be addressed through collaboration and innovation through initiatives such as the Aura partnership, established last year to foster collaboration between industry, academia, government and other organisations to drive the offshore wind industry forward."

Mark O’Reilly, Chief Executive and Chairman of Team Humber Marine Alliance (THMA), said: "Over the past eight years, THMA has helped facilitate a world beating offshore wind O&M cluster that is successfully working in the UK and Europe as well as more recently in developing global markets such as the USA and Asia. We have long championed a specialist UK O&M centre for the Humber and are absolutely delighted with the ORE Catapult and the University of Hull’s partnership. This initiative will build on our growing expertise and further establish the Humber region as an offshore wind centre of excellence."

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