Less than a third of up to £15m (€19.1m) of funding for the commercialisation of innovative UK designs for offshore wind components and equipment has been allocated.
Just under £3.8m has been distributed to five companies during the first of three rounds of grants. The funding scheme has two aims: to support development of a domestic supply chain capable of winning contracts from offshore wind players and to contribute to rapidly reducing the costs of UK offshore wind.
Two more funding rounds should be completed by early 2013, but the allocations may fall short of the headline £15m announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last year, in its 'Renewables Roadmap'. The programme is a DECC / UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB) joint venture.
"There was a good level of applications" for second round funding, according to the TSB's lead tehnologist for energy generation and supply, Rob Saunders, speaking with Windpower Offshore. These bids are now being assessed.
"We want to help capture as much value for UK companies from the Round 3 offshore wind programme – and beyond – as possible," added Saunders.
There is, as yet, no date for the announcement of second-round winners. News is most likely to come during the final quarter of 2012.
While DECC provided all of the funds for the first two rounds, the TSB plans to contribute about £4m for the third and final round. This will allow companies with innovative concepts and early-stage designs, not yet ready for demonstration, to apply for support. Details of the third funding round will be released next month.
The five winners of first-round funding were:
- David Brown Gear Systems - £1.2m for further development of its gearbox, which will be deployed by Samsung Heavy Industries in its 7MW offshore turbine
- NGenTec, £782,991 for a permanent magnet generator suitable for large offshore turbines
- OGN North Sea, £640,250 to build a prototype jacket foundation and to develop "construction methods" for offshore wind jackets
- Osbit Power, £615,000 for its MaXcces-HBS offshore turbine access system
- Gravitas Offshore, £556,250 for its concrete gravity foundation, progress on which will "also help develop reliability standards for concrete offshore wind foundations", says DECC.
No further funds for offshore wind technology and services have been agreed for 2013/14 or beyond. From TSB's perspective, "we will consider how best to support the industry in future, once we’ve seen what emerges from these first three funding rounds," says Saunders.