Regional sector initiative chosen to bid for £30m from Government innovation fund.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has chosen the South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator to work up a detailed bid for over £30m of potential government funding provided through the former’s flagship Strength in Places Fund (SIPF).

UKRI is providing £50,000 of early-stage funding to support development of the bid following a successful stage one application.

The project aims to build on Cornwall and Plymouth’s excellence in offshore renewables business and research to fast-track the construction of large-scale floating offshore wind farms in the Celtic Sea from the mid-2020s onwards.

The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator is being led by Wave Hub, the Cornwall Council-owned marine renewables research and technology organisation, in collaboration with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, A&P Group, Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council.

The UKRI’s first stage award will allow the project partners to work up a full stage bid for submission to the Strength in Places Fund in November, which has £236m available in the latest funding round and makes awards of between £10m and up to £50m in exceptional cases.

The awards will be announced next year.

UKRI lead on the Strength in Places Fund David Sweeney said: “I am delighted to be able to award early-stage funding to this bid which has great potential to benefit the local area through supporting innovation and sustained growth, and strengthen collaboration between industry and our world-class research base.”

Wave Hub executive chair Steve Jermy said: “We’re delighted that UKRI has recognised the strength of our bid and that we can progress to the next round.

The Great South West has the potential to make a decisive contribution to the UK’s offshore wind energy targets by developing a new floating wind industry that can create thousands of jobs with huge export potential.”

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP chair Mark Duddridge said: “This project is about global innovation in a high value industry and is a cornerstone of our Local Industrial Strategy. It is an opportunity to lead a post-pandemic green recovery and make a huge contribution to the UK’s economy and the fight against climate change.”

University of Plymouth head of the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and director of the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy Hub Deborah Greaves said: “The South West is perfectly placed to advance the development of offshore renewable energy on behalf of the whole country – something that has been acknowledged by UKRI through this funding award.

“And the University, with its pedigree for research, development and innovation in the renewables sector, is excited to be at the heart of the floating wind project as we now look to work up a full bid.”

University of Exeter deputy head of engineering Lars Johanning said: “The deployment of industrial scale floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea represents a once in a generation opportunity to drive investment and economic growth in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, Wales and the Great South West.

“Developer interest and activity has already commenced and there needs to be an industrial response to the supply chain opportunity. This has now seen a further boost.”