The National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) has teamed up with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in an effort to encourage innovation in offshore wind.

The partnership initially spans three PhD projects – each valued at £84,000 and co-funded by ORE Catapult, the NDC and the School of Engineering at the University of Aberdeen – focusing on different aspects of offshore wind.

It’s announcement comes after the prime minister’s strategy for energy security in Great Britain in April increased the 2050 target for offshore wind capacity by 10GW to 50GW, including 5GW of floating wind generation in deeper waters.

Initial projects backed include the NDC’s £1.6 million immersive simulation suite, which will be used to trial virtual marine operations related to the installation and maintenance of floating offshore wind technology systems in a risk-free environment.

The ORE Catapult and NDC will also support a multi-objective design optimisation of floating offshore wind systems scheme to create a numerical tool to improve the design of combined floating platforms and mooring and dynamic cable systems, allowing users to quickly identify the best solutions based on project circumstance and cost.

The last of the three initial projects is a study of environmental interactions of floating offshore wind technology, which will investigate how key environmental stakeholders, advisory bodies and research organisations can work together to identify gaps in their knowledge of how offshore wind farms interact with the marine environment, and better identify solutions.

Dr Marcin Kapitaniak and Professor Richard Neilson from the University of Aberdeen will coordinate these projects at the NDC – a £38m partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Net Zero Technology Centre and utility industry stakeholders more broadly – in Newburgh, Fife.

“Each project will run for a period of three-and-a-half years, and the results will inform approaches to offshore wind development and maintenance that have the potential to bring real improvements to current processes as well as cost savings to industry,” Dr Kapitaniak said.

Andrew Macdonald, director of offshore wind development and operations at ORE Catapult – which was established in 2013 by the UK Government and is part of a network of Catapults set up by Innovate UK in high growth industries – added: “These PhD projects will look at the design, installation, and maintenance of floating offshore wind systems, and how they interact with the marine environment, and this will further drive economic growth and our net zero future.”