UK Opens State-of-the-Art Robotics Center for Offshore Renewable Energy
The Digital, Autonomous and Robotics Engineering (DARE) Centre at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s testing facility in Blyth was opened May 18, by Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, the Rt Hon. Graham Stuart MP.
The £3m state-of-the-art DARE Centre is the first of its kind in the UK. It will provide a unique opportunity for developers, researchers and wider industry to test, demonstrate and commercialize innovative digital and robotic products and services for the offshore renewable energy market.
As offshore wind in the UK gets ready to triple capacity over the next decade, the adoption of robotics and autonomous systems is vital to achieving this rapid expansion and reaching Net Zero. These technologies play an increasingly important role in the offshore renewable energy sector, and the UK is primed to establish a world-leading supply chain linked to their future development.
Graham Stuart, Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, said: “I’m delighted to open the UK’s national robotics center for offshore wind. Drones, robots and underwater vehicles can reinforce the UK’s position as the world leader in offshore wind, make us even more competitive, and keep turbines turning in even the most hazardous of conditions.
“The robotics center will increase the safety and productivity of our highly skilled offshore wind technicians, lower costs, and contribute both to lower consumer bills and the nation’s energy security.”
Technology tested at the DARE Centre will support the expansion of the offshore wind market and turbocharge the success of services and digital infrastructure surrounding the industry.
Andrew Jamieson, Chief Executive at ORE Catapult, said: “The DARE Centre is a fantastic facility that will help the UK stay at the forefront of innovation in robotics, AI and digital solutions to support the growth of offshore renewables.
“The UK has a global reputation for its sub-ocean engineering expertise and ingenuity. The DARE Centre will propel UK businesses and this capability into the fast-expanding offshore wind space.
The DARE Centre includes a robotics assembly bay, an airborne robotics test zone, three dry docks with 20,000m3 capacity and test control rooms linked to the docks via a live environment monitoring system. The center is the latest part of ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, which offers a wide range of test and validation facilities, including market-leading wind turbine testing and an offshore demonstration zone.
Companies displaying their technology solutions at the DARE Centre opening, included Kinewell, Enshore Subsea, SMD, EnergyVue, BeeX and Sonardyne, Eleven-I, Innvotek, and Aspira Aerial Applications – creating ways to streamline the offshore wind turbine installation and dramatically improve operations and maintenance on offshore wind farms.
Jonathan Fenning, Managing Director at Aspira Aerial Applications, said: “The DARE Centre will be pivotal in supporting multiple stages of our Innovate UK project to develop spray application using a bespoke drone to improve the operating efficacy of wind turbine technology.
“Looking to the future, our technology can be used to apply other intelligent coatings such as environmentally sensitive de-icers, or coatings to assist with fatigue/crack inspections. We very much intend to maintain our partnership with the DARE team as we move forward.”
The DARE Centre has been funded through UK Government’s Getting Building Fund, managed in the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), and Innovate UK.
Helen Golightly OBE, Chief Executive of the North East LEP, said: “The offshore wind and green energy sectors in our region are internationally renowned, so it’s very fitting that the UK’s first center for advancements in digital, autonomous and robotics engineering in renewable energy has opened here in the North East.