The UK has been the world leader in offshore wind since October 2008, with more installed capacity than any other country. Three of the largest wind farms are located off the North East Coast of the UK, making the Humber – the Energy Estuary – a prime location to become the country’s offshore wind hub. Innovation in technology has fuelled this rapid growth.

The presence of the recently opened Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy blade factory in Hull and Ørsted’s presence in Grimsby is evidence that the Humber region is the place for this new, rapidly growing sector to develop and thrive. To seize the opportunity provided by the offshore wind industry, a project bringing together excellence, knowledge and innovation called Aura, has been established to consolidate the UK’s position as a world leader in the offshore wind sector, supporting the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Alongside Ørsted, Siemens Gamsea Renewable Energy and the University of Hull, Aura unites the expertise of Durham University, the University of Sheffield, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult [ORE], Green Port Hull, CATCH the National Oceanography Centre and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership.

“Research and innovation in operations and maintenance is essential to maintaining the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore wind and this new Centre of Excellence will be key to establishing an anchor for the industry as a whole.” Dr David Richards, University of Hull Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise

Centred in the Humber, Aura aims to help establish a vibrant offshore wind industry with global reach and influence. To deliver this vision, we are engaging with academia, industry, NGOs, and national and local government to focus on three key areas:

  • Research, development and innovation – identifying and solving the technical challenges and problems facing the sector.
  • Industry engagement and enterprise – creating an international centre to stimulate the growth of offshore wind in the Humber region.
  • The talent pipeline – developing and delivering a national framework to meet the skill needs of the sector by matching demand to knowledge and training.

In October 2017, the University of Hull and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult further consolidated the Energy Estuary’s position as a global hub for offshore wind by joining forces to launch a £2 million Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Centre of Excellence. The fiveyear partnership will develop a series of research and innovation projects to improve the way offshore wind farms are operated and maintained.

Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s Operational Performance Director, said: “The offshore wind industry is committed to working with Government to secure a transformational Sector Deal, and initiatives like this play a key role. The East Coast has extensive experience of servicing offshore wind farms and that experience is invaluable as we look to build expertise and a local supply chain, establishing the region as a real centre of excellence that can service UK offshore wind farms as well exporting to the fast growing international market.”

Aura allows the University of Hull to align with the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which provides a blueprint for Britain’s low carbon future. This in turn enables the University and the Energy Estuary to research and pilot the emerging area of integrated energy; and forge links with the chemical industry.


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.