What should the oil and gas companies offer to offshore renewable technology even as the oil prices is still depressed and investments going down in many parts of the offshore oil and gas industry, the industry need to diversify into offshore renewable such as wind, tidal and wave energy.
The oil and gas and renewable industries are often described as a dichotomy, the old way versus the new, the dirty versus the clean. In reality, from a technical and engineering standpoint, there are many areas of overlap, particularly in countries such as the United Kingdom, where a majority of renewable and non-renewable assets are located offshore.
Building an oil rig in the Sea is not all that different to setting up a wind farm.
Both jobs require the ability to negotiate choppy waters and bad weather (often using remotely operated vehicles), and the technology to drill or pile foundations into the seabed. Communications and cabling infrastructure present a big challenge in both instances, as do the logistics of transporting and arranging huge components such as derricks and blades.
As the energy mix moves inexorably in a greener direction, there is no reason why many of these can’t take the expertise they have accrued and use it to drive progress in the offshore wind industry. However, the rate of companies making the transition has been slow up to now, for a number of reasons.
First, the similarities between the two industries are not fully understood by many people, with a lot of oil & gas technicians still viewing wind as somewhat alien. In addition, although a management team may be convinced of the potential of another industry, it can be difficult to hone in on exactly what you are trying to achieve by moving across and how to make a business case for it.
This is where The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult hopes to make a difference. ORE Catapult is a technology and research centre for the development of wind wave and tidal energy. It works with companies looking to make a mark in these areas by offering advice, engineering expertise or even, in some cases, going into formal partnership. Each year the group refreshes a list of innovation challenges, specific problems that need to be tackled in order for offshore renewables to meet their potential. These include issues such as reducing blade erosion on wind turbines, and developing new ways of anchoring wave platforms to the seabed so they can handle larger turbines.
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