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£2.8m initiative to support North-east SMEs

The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) has established a £2.8m public-private initiative to support SMEs in the North-east of England.

The Renewable Energy Technology Accelerator (RETA) project will launch with three new collaborations, involving companies developing innovative technologies to reduce the cost of offshore renewable energy installations.

Over its lifetime, the project is expected to provide more than 70 regional SMEs with technical and market advisory services to assist them with developing products and services aimed at the offshore renewables industry.

The European Regional Development Fund Competitiveness Programme 2007- 2013, which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is investing £1.4m in the project. 

This funding is being matched by Narec along with five industry partners and all work will be undertaken in the North-east to engage local companies.

The programme will be completed by the end of March 2015. Two technology innovation projects are already underway and a third is currently in development, these are:

IHC Engineering Business will work with Narec on the development of an inter-array cable trencher for offshore wind farms. 

This will be suitable for trenching both away from and towards turbine and substation foundations in seabed conditions representative of planned UK offshore wind sites.

IHC Engineering Business chief trenching engineer Ralph Manchester commented: “The High Traction (Hi-Traq) vehicle uses patented technology to improve manoeuvrability, traction and overall trenching capability.

“It has been specifically developed to reduce the day to day issues facing operators.

“They have no option at the moment but to use technology designed and build for the oil and gas sector - technology that is not appropriate for the offshore wind farm sector.”

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