N. Sea subsea operators urged to dive into £2bn UK offshore wind turbine market

Dr Gordon Drummond
Dr Gordon Drummond

A new report from the National Subsea Research Initiative has identified operations & maintenance – particularly inspection, repair and maintenance activities – as the highest potential area for subsea companies to diversify into the offshore wind renewable energy sector.

Nearly half (40%) of the typical lifecycle costs of offshore wind farm developments come from maintenance and operational requirements.

Based on UK Government projections for offshore wind deployment, these costs for more than 5,500 turbines could be worth £2 billion per annum by 2025.

The report – ‘Subsea Technological Challenges in Offshore Wind’ – highlights opportunities the offshore wind industry holds for UK subsea companies, with a technology roadmap outlining the way ahead with industry-driven objectives.

Given the UK industry’s existing IRM capability, companies could break into the offshore wind market by offering individual services such as automated inspection, cable-scour inspection, condition monitoring, remote monitoring, increased turbine access and risk based inspection.

In time, these services could be bundled to deliver a full life-of-field offering. It is also believed that diver-less solutions will be of growing interest as offshore wind developments move further offshore into deeper waters.

Dr Gordon Drummond, NSRI project director, said: “Offshore renewables is a growing market which presents exciting new business opportunities for the UK subsea supply chain.

“While fossil fuels are expected to continue dominating the global energy supply mix, renewables are taking off at an incredible rate. There are some natural synergies between the sectors, which provide a real advantage for subsea companies looking to expand their presence in multiple energy markets.

“The offshore wind industry is focused on innovating to reduce costs, giving subsea companies the chance to introduce new technology and products to the industry. Diversifying into renewables provides greater resilience for companies and those who take an early lead will reap the benefits.

“The return on investment for renewable projects can be achieved significantly quicker than those in the oil and gas sector, representing a natural, highly profitable diversification strategy. 

 “We hope this report, along with the technology roadmaps will help guide companies through the steps required to break into the offshore wind industry, highlighting the entry routes and the opportunities most accessible to the UK supply chain.”

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