For the first time the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub (OWIH) will consider Health & Safety (H&S) criteria as it assesses and prioritises the technology innovation needs of the offshore wind sector.

Health & Safety is becoming an increasing focal point for the industry in its drive to minimise the time people have to spend offshore, which will enhance safety and reduce the operating costs for offshore wind farms.

The OWIH, a joint initiative by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and the Knowledge Transfer Network, is the UK’s primary coordinator for innovation, focusing on offshore wind energy cost reduction and maximising UK economic impact. Its series of technology innovation roadmaps are advanced prioritisation tools that identify the innovation needs of the offshore wind sector by setting a series of industry technology challenges and calling for solutions. These innovation needs will also now be scored against their contribution to improving industry H&S.

The new scoring criteria, introduced by the OWIH’s industry advisory group and verified by the G+, the global offshore wind Health & Safety organisation, will help to better evaluate the sector’s progress against its Sector Deal commitments as well as provide analysis on Health & Safety trends.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research & Innovation Director at ORE Catapult, said: “The Hub’s technology innovation roadmaps are designed to clearly signpost where the industry should be focusing its innovation effort to continue to drive down costs and maximise on the business opportunities from the growth of the sector.

“Health & Safety must continue to be at the heart of our sector and should be a key factor in the types of new innovations being embraced by the sector.  It is fitting that with the OWIH Roadmaps we now take these considerations into account when assessing the future priorities for our sector.”

Kate Harvey, G+ General Manager commented: “We welcome the inclusion of the new criteria as a consideration when deciding the innovation priorities for the offshore wind sector.

“The Health and safety performance of the sector is improving, even as the industry sees a continuing increase in installed capacity – a sure sign of a mature sector with an improving safety culture.

“Continuing to drive down the number of accidents offshore is of key importance to all wind farm owner/operators. Innovation areas that score highly against the new H&S criteria will significantly reduce the high-risk activities that are summarised in the G+ annual incident reports.”