The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) has established a £2.8m public-private initiative to support SMEs in the north east of England.
The Renewable Energy Technology Accelerator (RETA) project will launch with three new collaborations, involving companies developing innovative technologies to reduce the cost of offshore renewable energy installations.
RETA will aid SMEs moving into the rapidly developing offshore wind and marine renewable energy supply chain.
Tony Ikwue, innovation and corporate development director at Narec, said:
“Narec has created this programme to build on the strengths of local engineering companies. Initial interest from industry has been extremely high and the projects selected will see new products being developed in the North East. 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.”
Cllr Neil Foster, Deputy Chair of the North East England Local Management Committee (LMC), which engages key partners in the overseeing of the strategic delivery of the ERDF Programme in the North East, said:
“ERDF investment will ensure businesses receive excellent support to develop innovative new products; helping SMEs to enter the market, or enhance their position within the industry. Businesses will have access to Narec’s world class research facilities and expertise to develop their ideas and immerse themselves in the emerging supply chain. This will have a positive impact on the North East economy.”
The programme aims to be completed by the end of March 2015. Two technology innovation projects are already underway and a third is currently in development.
IHC Engineering Business will work with Narec on the development of an inter-array cable trencher for offshore wind farms. This will be suitable for trenching both away from and towards turbine and substation foundations in seabed conditions representative of planned UK offshore wind sites.
Offshore grid infrastructure reliability is a key concern for the industry and Tecnalia will work on a smart cable technology project that focuses on improving the understanding of cable performance in-situ, so that installation, operational and asset management practices can be evolved to optimise energy production.
Atlantis Resources Corporation will work with Narec on the development of a highly innovative nacelle intervention system for their tidal energy turbine. This is intended to significantly reduce the installation and operation costs offshore.