Collaboration and innovation are key to meeting the offshore wind needs of the future
Blair Ainslie, CEO, Seajacks
Innovation remains at the forefront of the offshore wind industry. The sector has in recent years, and continues to, make incredible technological advances from development through to energy production.
Recent examples can be seen with MHI Vestas announcing it has developed the first 10MW turbines, to be delivered in 2021, GE Renewable Energy unveiling its Haliade-X 12 MW turbine, the world’s largest, and Seajacks’ offshore installation vessel, Scylla, harnessing a special set of supports and sea-fastenings to maximise carrying capacity and increase efficiency, which led to the recent completion of work on the Walney Extension windfarm four weeks ahead of schedule. These projects are just a few in a long line that show offshore wind is leading the way in modern energy development.
With increasing global demand for offshore wind and the emergence of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics, innovation in the sector is likely to continue at a rapid pace. As the industry evolves, organisations within the sector must adapt to and harness new technology in order to meet the new demands that will be put upon them.
Whilst innovation has and will produce fantastic results for the offshore wind industry, it also presents challenges for businesses, particularly suppliers. Technology is evolving at such a rate that it can be difficult to predict what developers will need from suppliers going forward. So, how can the supply chain ensure it stays ahead of the curve and is ready to build the windfarms of the future?
One way is through collaboration. The offshore wind industry needs to unite and share experiences, knowledge and thoughts on where the industry is heading, and how we are innovating to meet this. We have already seen some organisations looking do this, with papers such as the ORE Catapult UK success stories report providing those in the industry with an insight to how their fellow operators and suppliers are harnessing technology and innovation. However, suppliers cannot simply rely on industry bodies to give an indication as to where offshore wind development is heading as they risk being behind the pace.
To do this, we should all look to make the most of the opportunities when we do come together to share our thoughts and ideas. Whether at trade shows, conferences or working with industry bodies, through making the most of these meetings we can all ensure that we are heading in the right direction, we are ready to meet the requirements of the sector going forward and that no one is left behind.
It is not through collaboration alone that suppliers can ensure they are harnessing innovation in the sector, but also through anticipation. Businesses must not wait for new technologies to emerge and then react once these are developed and implemented. Firms need to be proactive; listening and learning about the latest innovations coming out of the sector and making sure we react at that point, otherwise we risk being off the pace and unable to meet demand.
The offshore wind industry is thriving and its continued development should be celebrated. Through collaboration, innovation and preparation, suppliers can ensure they have everything in place to meet developers’ demands going forward and be at the forefront of the sector.