Wednesday, September 24, 2014

News: Fast track funding call for offshore wind sector

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Manufacturing companies working on innovative projects in the booming offshore wind sector are being asked to get involved with the latest £4.5m funding round from the GROW:OffshoreWind service.

The £50m programme secured £20m from the Regional Growth Fund to improve the UK wind industry's supply chain.

The UK offshore wind market, estimated to be worth more than £100bn over the next 20 years, offers manufacturers a significant, sustained growth opportunity and by working in close collaboration with industry leaders and government, GROW:OffshoreWind offers direct access to market experts, technological know-how and funding support to English companies looking to move into the offshore wind market.

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in Rotherham is leading on Process Technology Innovation support, providing a new route for companies to access its collaborative R&D capabilities and the large-scale manufacturing and process demonstration facilities at the Nuclear AMRC.

Through partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, a fast-track fund totalling £2m has been made available by GROW:OffshoreWind to help SMEs and large enterprises accelerate their investment in innovation projects.

Up to £500k of grant funding is available for successful applicants, which can be used to support a wide variety of project costs and the service is looking for applications from English companies who can utilise this funding over the next six months.

Dominic Brown, head of GROW:OffshoreWind, said: "By streamlining the approvals process, the call will enable companies to commence their investment plans by early November."

One example of collaboration has seen Tata Steel, TUV Rheinland Sonovation and the Nuclear AMRC come together to find a solution for the problem of inspecting 25km of welding on a 100+ metre wind turbine tower.

Real-time inspection to ensure the welds can stand up to the harsh conditions offshore not only boosts safety but considerably cuts the time and costs of reworking. The non-destructive testing (NDT) process is also used for nuclear components where safety is critical.

The consortium's solution was to integrate defect testing equipment - based on sound wave technology using ultrasonic transmitters and receivers - into an existing welding rig. The system was designed with heat-resistant probes and a cooling system to enable it to work at high temperatures (up to 450°C) and adaptive controls to adjust the speed and feed of welding.

As well as detecting imperfections in welds in real time at high temperatures, the system's adaptive controls enable welds to be filled uniformly and at greater speed despite variations in size.

The result of the study is an innovative, proven NDT process, which tests for flaws during the welding process, reducing time and money spent on repairs and improving not just aesthetics but build integrity and safety.

GROW:OffshoreWind website
AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC

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