A new free digital knowledge hub for the offshore wind community has been launched in an effort to help realise the UK’s ambition of 50GW of offshore wind by 2030.
The Offshore Wind Evidence & Knowledge Hub (OWEKH) is funded by The Crown Estate through the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme, and is operated by AtkinsRéalis.
OWEKH’s purpose is to allow developers, regulators, marine specialists, and other professionals working in offshore wind to access, submit and interact with key data and documents.
This includes past impact assessments, industry knowledge, large scale datasets and academic references. Ultimately, this is expected to help to accelerate and streamline the consenting process, while protecting marine life and improving biodiversity.
Olivia Thomas, head of marine planning at The Crown Estate, and co-sponsor of the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme, said: “Access to the latest high quality data and evidence is vital to the ongoing successful development of the offshore wind sector.
“This new digital resource will be a key building block, and it is far more than an online portal – it will be a collaborative space where experts from across industry and academia can join forces to shape the future of offshore wind across the UK.
“Bringing OWEKH to life through the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme has been a huge achievement and we look forward to continued engagement with the community as we seek to deliver sustainable and secure energy solutions for generations to come.”
Harriet McQuade, lead for OWEKH at AtkinsRéalis, added: “Traditional consenting approaches require developers to start collating data from scratch each time, but don’t reflect the digital capabilities we now hold as a sector. OWEKH will provide sector professionals and their projects with critical knowledge transfer, from shared data captured on prior projects, or best practice on analytical methods.
“The OWEKH Community of Practice and Technical Topic Groups are intrinsically linked with the digital portal and will have a significant role in providing a step change in offshore wind consenting. We are encouraging any offshore wind consent experts with knowledge to share to get involved.”
The hub is shaped by technical topic groups, which allow sector specialists to collaborate to identify, propose, and create best practice industry guidance in their specific domain.
The first technical topic group is focused on impact assessments, with around 20,000 resources available. A further 15 technical topic groups are in development, such as cable routing, marine life, seascape, and social impact.
The Climate Change Committee expects offshore wind to become the UK’s largest source of power. The sector directly and indirectly employs more than 32,000 people, with this forecast to grow to more than 88,000 by 2026, according to the Offshore Wind Industry Council.
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