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Lowestoft: Innovation under the microscope at EEEGR renewable energy conference

PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 February 2014

Johnathan Reynolds, business development lead for OrbisEnergy, addresses the conference.

Johnathan Reynolds, business development lead for OrbisEnergy, addresses the conference.

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The importance of innovation and technology within the offshore renewables industry in the East of England came under the microscope at a conference hosted by the OrbisEnergy Centre, Lowestoft.

Around 100 delegates at the event, which was supported by the East of England Energy Group and the European Regional Development Fund, heard expert updates on recent developments and future opportunities in the sector.

“Innovation and technology are important for future growth and reliability but also critical to underpin the drive to cut down costs in the energy industry,” said Johnathan Reynolds, business development lead for OrbisEnergy.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who was also at the event, agreed that the bottom line throughout was to drive down energy costs, secure the UK’s future energy supplies and create growth and jobs for the region.

Pledges of Government support for regional innovations were also on the table at the event.

“The Government wants to open up opportunities for the UK supply chain with the twin objectives of reducing the cost of energy and maximising the economic benefits,” said Richard Hall, from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills.

Delegates heard details of the new Offshore Renewables Energy Catapult Centre which is bringing together the very best of the UK’s businesses, scientists and engineers to work side-by-side on research and development with a specific focus on SMEs.

Although based at Glasgow, it is planning satellite centres around the UK to help guide the best ideas through the prototype stage to testing, validation, demonstration and deployment. Typical was one current project to reduce wind turbine blade erosion.

Richard Ousey, head of GROW: Offshore Wind, described another £20million “pot of money” to help SMEs tap into the massive global offshore market and create or safeguard jobs. “We have identified the barriers to entering or growing in the market - and we can help break them down,” he said.

Jon Rees, Cefas renewable energy programme director, told how the Lowestoft-based marine science centre had various revolutionary projects in progress.

They included its autonomous monitoring and measuring waveglider, an EMECO data tool to précis masses of data into something more practical and a new wave and tide predictor to accurately forecast conditions around a particular monopile.

From Stuart Thornton, of Fred. Olsen Universal Foundation, came details of its innovative suction bucket technology for positioning monopiles - while Ranjit Mene, gave delegates a ‘glimpse of the future’ in describing the world’s first industrial scale offshore wind farm off Belgium using giant 6MW turbines

Mr Reynolds said that as well as funding described during the conference, another £50m was on offer from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund, £12m from New Anglia LEP’s Growing Business Fund and £2.5m grants from OrbisEnergy’s own SCORE project. “If SMEs are unsure about applying for funding they can ask OrbisEnergy or EEEGR for help,” he added.

For more information call Johnathan Reynolds at 01502 563368 or email: johnathan.reynolds@nwes.org.uk .

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