MEMBER NEWS: National Decommissioning Centre secures funding to support the development of installation technology for offshore wind farms

November 24, 2021
MEMBER NEWS: National Decommissioning Centre secures funding to support the development of installation technology for offshore wind farms

An Aberdeen-led project to explore more efficient ways of installing offshore windfarms will share in £800,000 of new funding to support the renewable energy sector.

The collaborative research proposal between the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) – a partnership between the University of Aberdeen and Net Zero Technology Centre – and Ellon-based Aubin Group, will examine novel and more cost-effective methods of development, within the context of the quest to obtain Net Zero goals in the industry.

The project builds on Aubin’s patented pumpable variable buoyancy technology (Deepbuoy), which offers a more precise and controlled lifting solution to commonly used air bags, making lifting operations easier and safer for cranes, divers and ROVs.

Detailed modelling simulations will be performed by the NDC, utilizing its state-of-the-art, real-time, real-physics Marine Simulator, to build models of Aubin’s Deepbuoy technology to assess its applicability, benefits in terms of costs and reduced carbon footprint for installation of wind farms infrastructure.

The Aberdeen project is one of eight across the UK to receive support from the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Hub through its Flexible Funding Scheme, designed to support ambitious research in offshore renewable energy.

The Hub’s Flexible Funding was established to enable UK researchers to respond to a number of key research challenges in ORE. It also aims to support project areas that complement existing research, fill gaps or add cross-cutting activities to explore the transfer of research findings between sectors within ORE.

The Aberdeen project will also benefit from additional funding from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (FoW CoE).

Dr Marcin Kapitaniak is an Independent Research Fellow at the NDC. As principal investigator he says the project will allow the technology to progress, potentially leading to the reduction in costs of installation of floating wind farms.

“The NDC’s simulator allows the research team to conduct virtual field trials, to demonstrate the capabilities of liquid buoyancy and the underwater lifting system in shallow, median and deep-water wind farm installations,” he added.

“Through real-time simulation studies we will be able to identify challenges relating to the installation of floating wind farm anchors and mooring systems.

“The findings from our studies should lead to the development of novel techniques for the deployment of wind farm anchors and mooring systems.

The research team will also compare the methods developed through the project with conventional installation methods and emerging competitive new lifting methods, with the aim of demonstrating a significant reduction in costs and reliance on heavy lift vessels for the installation of wind farms.

Dr Callum Scullion, product development manager at Aubin Group said: “It is exciting to work with the National Decommissioning Centre on a project that can enable the scaling of floating windfarm projects in an environmental and cost-effective manner.

“Utilising state-of-the art technology to run virtual trials can inform and de-risk the design and installation of future mooring and anchor systems, which enables a reduction in kWh costs of floating wind and could reduce the UK economy’s reliance on fossil fuels further.

“The information we will gather in these virtual trials can also help towards reducing the environmental impact of these enormous infrastructure projects on the marine environment, reduce carbon footprint, optimise harbour and vessel options, and help plan for full lifecycle deployment, including field maintenance and future decommissioning.”

Roger Esson, the Net Zero Technology Centre’s Head of Industry & Partner Network, commented: “The funding received is a huge boost to the important research required to find more efficient methods of installing offshore windfarms. As we look to technology to unlock the potential of offshore wind, this type of project is pivotal in our progress of achieving net zero.

“The NDC’s state of the art simulator technology will play a key role in this project and its outcomes could be game-changing for the sector. At the Net Zero Technology Centre our aim is to support industry through our collaborations and this is a great example of how doing that can help us drive the energy transition forward.”

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AREG is the original energy transition organisation, working on behalf of members to empower the energy supply chain and champion its expertise. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to find out more about membership.

AREG has played an important role in the growth of Scotland’s renewable energy sector, engaging the supply chain and developing the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. However, we are only at the very beginning of the transition that AREG was established to both lead and support so there are still opportunities for companies to get into the constantly evolving renewables supply chain. We look forward to continuing our work together as renewables builds on its place as Scotland’s main source of power, and as we seek to deliver real change in the crucial areas of heat and transport.

Scottish Renewables

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with AREG since its formation. The recent progress in the developments of offshore wind projects by Equinor and Vattenfall are as a result of the work of the group over many years. The north-east is known as the oil and gas capital of Europe. At the Chamber, we believe the region must evolve its position to being recognised as the energy capital. Whilst hydrocarbons will continue to be essential in driving our economy for years to come, the generation of renewable resources will play an increasingly important role in providing cost-effective power, innovative development and economic growth.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

The enthusiasm and dedication of the early group that would become AREG was fundamental in us choosing to launch All-Energy in Aberdeen. The first tiny show was held in 2001, and AREG’s Chairman at the time, Jeremy Cresswell, played such an active role that I often describe him in terms such as All-Energy’s ‘midwife’. All-Energy is now the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference in terms of number of attendees, space booked, and number of exhibiting companies. As AREG became firmly established, their presence and support for the event grew spectacularly over the years. We thank them most sincerely for their invaluable input.


Vattenfall has forged a strong working relationship with AREG through the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. AREG has worked tirelessly on behalf of the North East and it can take enormous credit for the growth of sustainable energy in the region and the path it has cleared for the region to capture further investment.


Aberdeen City and Shire is emerging as a key location for renewables by successfully transferring its world-class oil and gas expertise into the sector and AREG has done much to advance this through a broad range of initiatives. It has acted as a catalyst in driving further investment in the local economy by engaging with companies, Government, public bodies and existing projects and we have been pleased to support their efforts. Scottish Enterprise will continue to engage with AREG as we increase Scotland’s use of renewable energy.

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