Photo credits: ORE Catapult


Paula Bastos

WavEC Offshore Renewables

As part of the TWIND project and in the framework of a Staff Exchange in Roadmapping and Strategy Development for Offshore Wind, I visited our partners from Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult from 11th to 13th October in Glasgow. I was very well hosted by the strategy team (Kacper Stefaniak and Cameron Wilson), where we had the opportunity to have an introductory meeting on the overview of the UK and Portuguese offshore wind market, covering the current and future development pathways presented by each part.

During this exchange, we have been through a detailed presentation by ORE Catapult on the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub (OWIH) roadmaps to provide a more comprehensive overview of innovation priorities, supply chain requirements, stakeholder engagement and the potential opportunities available, as well as a detailed presentation of the entire roadmapping process from initial set up to final publication. Furthermore, the ORE Catapult team encouraged debates about OWIH processes, criteria, requirements, and the proposal of new ideas and improvements to be implemented in their tool.

The methodology, built in collaboration with industry and academia, has been developed to identify and prioritise the innovation needs of the offshore wind sector, identifying the key challenges. It was very interesting to explore the tool and its development structure, as it allowed finding synergies between both markets and identifying potential opportunities to apply the methodology in the Portuguese context. We had the opportunity to discuss how a similar roadmap could be established for Portugal and the relevant contents, taking into consideration all local aspects and requirements, and the markets’ development levels. We have initiated a “six-handed” draft of what could become a roadmap for Portugal, which allowed us to raise several valuable questions and discussions. The team was very willing to share their time and knowledge and provide a productive exchange.

Participating in this Staff Exchange was very insightful and valuable as it allowed me to be in contact with a technically very experient institution, which has been developing excellent research work in a highly mature market, and to have the opportunity to interact with a very capable team and expand my knowledge in a collaborative way. The outcomes from this experience will certainly be useful to further applications at WavEC.

Anup Nambiar & Mathieu Kervyn

Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

As a part of the staff exchange programme under the TWIND project, Mathieu Kervyn and I, from the Grid Compliance team at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, visited Tecnalia at its home base in Bilbao between 12th and 16th December 2022. We were hosted at Tecnalia by Germán Pérez Morán and the Offshore Renewables Group he leads. The main aims of the visit were to:

  1. Exchange knowledge and skills;
  2. Identify synergies between Technalia and ORE Catapult;
  3. Identify collaboration areas for future projects.

Preparations for the staff exchange programme began about two months prior to the visit with a call with Germán. Mathieu and I had identified research groups at Tecnalia of interest to us before the call. Germán was then kind enough to liaise between us and the research groups we had identified. With his assistance we were able to interact with members of the Offshore Renewables Group, the Power Electronics and System Equipment Group and the Digital Energy Group while we were there. We also got the opportunity to visit the Biscay Marine Energy Platform (BiMEP) wave and floating wind test site on one of the days.

The week Mathieu and I were at Tecnalia went very smoothly. We had our own desks to work at and Germán had left the second half of the days free for us to continue discussions from the mornings or to work on our projects. The work culture at Tecnalia was very similar to what we have at the ORE Catapult. The main difference was the “formal” coffee and lunch breaks – when research groups went away to the coffee room or the lunch hall to have coffee/lunch. I found these to be very good opportunities to network beyond those who we had scheduled meetings with, to continue discussions from earlier and welcome breaks from work.

One of my three main work-related highlights from the week there was the power electronics and HVDC lab that we got to visit and some of the advanced control and hardware experiments that were shown to us. Tecnalia had a set up for fast prototyping in the lab wherein they could test novel control algorithms in control hardware-in-the-loop systems and then quickly move onto testing those algorithms on a pure hardware test bed in a short period of time.

My second highlight was when one of the researchers at Tecnalia we were meeting brought up an old project proposal that Tecnalia had worked together with ORE Catapult on. This clearly showed that we just had to revive some of the older relationships that already existed between the two companies.

My third highlight was our boat trip at BiMEP to see Tecnalia’s HarshLab and their measurement buoys. That trip gave me an appreciation of the energetic sea conditions wave and floating wind devices need to operate in.

From the discussions and meetings we had at Tecnalia over the week, possible areas of collaboration like: grid emulation and hardware-in-the-loop testing, modelling of power converters and their grid forming/following control, and digital twins for wind turbine generators and power converters were identified. There were also other topics, slightly outside the scope of our day-to-day work, that were recorded as well. Relevant researchers at ORE Catapult will be introduced to their counterparts at Tecnalia in early 2023 to hopefully start/continue collaborations with them.

Mathieu and I spent most evenings after work walking around in Bilbao. Since the exchange was just before Christmas the city was beautifully decorated and the weather was lovely as well. We also went pintxo bar hopping most evenings for dinner, as suggested to us by some of the researchers we met at Tecnalia. The week there also improved my, albeit poor, Spanish by a few words/phrases! My visit to the Guggenheim Museum on the last afternoon there was the icing on the cake of the exchange programme.

Participating in the staff exchange program was an enriching and rewarding experience for me. It gave me the opportunity to experience working in and to learn about another research organisation. The measure of success of the exchange programme stems from how we, participants in the exchange programme, continue communicating with and collaborating with those whom we met. I am hopeful that we will make something positive grow from the seeds that were planted during the exchange.

Daniel Milano

Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

As part of the TWIND project, I visited our partners from Tecnalia’s offshore renewables team on the week of the 26thof September. During the exchange, I was able to visit Tecnalia’s offices, workshops and other facilities, get to know the offshore renewables team and meet floating wind platform developers from the area.

But first, about Tecnalia – the largest centre of applied research and technological development in Spain, a benchmark in Europe and a member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance. Their many collaborations with companies and institutions are aimed at improving competitiveness, people’s quality of life and achieve sustainable growth. Tecnalia is involved in multiple joint industry partnerships and have accumulated a significant amount of experience in offshore wind technology, e.g. the design of the Nautilus floating offshore wind platform and the development of a mooring system design tool – all areas of strong interest for ORE Catapult.

ORE Catapult and Tecnalia have a long-standing collaboration agreement. An introductory meeting with Tecnalia’s floating offshore wind team has given me a better understanding of their technical capabilities and experience, though no projects were identified to keep the synergy alive.

I thought that a visit to Tecnalia’s headquarters in the Basque Country would allow myself and ORE Catapult to better understand Tecnalia’s organisation, their approach to problem-solving and technical portfolio. As the engineer responsible for numerical modelling of floating offshore wind turbines, and heavily involved in projects focused on the design of floating wind platforms, it was clear that a visit would be greatly beneficial for myself and therefore my team. And indeed, the visit was insightful for many reasons; Tecnalia is a research centre with a wide range of technical capabilities and cutting-edge research activities, while Saitec and Nautilus (two floating wind developers that I had the opportunity to meet) are key industrial players in offshore wind with years of design experience and an in-depth understanding of the challenges – technical, financial and commercial –  that the industry is facing.

I was also invited to the BiMEP (Biscay Marine Energy Platform) open sea test site, their control room and substation, as well as Tecnalia’s latest research buoy HarshLab 2. The visit allowed me to appreciate the sheer scale of the infrastructure required for a multi-Megawatt power generation system.

A number of potential collaboration opportunities have been identified during my visit, ranging from novel methodologies for load mapping of offshore structural via numerical models to data-driven collaborations (e.g. sharing operational data of ORE Catapult’s Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine). Tecnalia and the Catapult also have research buoys (respectively HarshLab 2.0 and the MEECE research buoy) which put the companies in the unique position of being able to run coordinated comparative analyses in different European waters.

The TWIND exchange was a great experience, but now comes the hard part – turn ideas and opportunities into projects.