The offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy sectors are at the forefront of sustainable energy solutions, and leading the charge in this dynamic arena is the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Hub. With its mission to bridge the gap between academia, industry, policy, and the public, the Hub plays a pivotal role in fostering innovation, maximising societal value, and advancing research in offshore renewables. 

The Supergen ORE Hub, backed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is predominantly engineering-focused but also champions the integration of environmental sciences into its research landscape. This holistic approach ensures that the environmental impact of offshore renewables remains a central consideration. 

At this year’s much-anticipated Supergen ORE Hub Annual Assembly 2023, industry experts, academics, policymakers, and professionals from the offshore renewable energy community converged at The Leonardo Royal Hotel, Southampton. Among the notable keynote speakers was Hayley Hinchen, Principal Consultant at Howell Marine Consulting (HMC), and a key figure in the ECOWind research programme which is championed by HMC. ECOWind has been instrumental in driving impactful research in the offshore renewable energy domain. 

Accelerating Impact: A Vision for the Future 

The assembly opened with a significant announcement from Professor Deborah Greaves OBE, Director of the Supergen ORE Hub. EPSRC has granted an impressive £7.5 million to the Supergen ORE Impact Hub, designed to expedite the impact of existing and forthcoming offshore renewable energy devices and systems. This funding will play a pivotal role in steering the UK towards its ambitious net-zero commitments, with a sharp focus on impact creation. 

Exploring Vital Themes 

The assembly was structured around several pivotal themes: 

Core Research Overview: Co-Directors provided a brief overview of the fundamental research conducted within the Supergen ORE Hub. 

Project Updates: Quick updates on Supergen ORE Hub Flexible Funded projects and EPSRC Wave Energy Projects Research illuminated the latest advancements in the field. 

Unlocking Growth Targets: Presentations and discussions centered on the changes required within policy and practice to meet offshore renewable energy targets for 2030 and beyond. 

Empowering the Workforce: Delving into the critical topic of workforce growth and sustainability, the event explored how to ensure that Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) remain integral to the journey towards 2030 and beyond. 

Global Collaboration: The assembly concluded with a focus on sharing best practices through international collaboration, ensuring that all communities and regions reap the benefits of offshore renewable energy growth. 

Keynote Insights 

Delegates heard from a variety of industry experts, including keynote speakers like Caitlin Byers, Development Manager (Integration & Transition) at the Crown Estate Scotland, Henry Jeffrey, Co-Director of the Supergen ORE Hub and Head of Policy Unit at the University of Edinburgh, and Ajai Ahluwalia, Head of Supply Chain at RenewableUK. As one of the keynote speakers, Hayley Hinchen also shared her extensive experience and insights: 

“To have the ECOWind programme represented at the Supergen ORE Hub Assembly has been fantastic. It’s not just about conducting research; it’s about making a tangible impact in addressing the considerable and complex challenges we currently face as a society. Our team is dedicated to driving change, and building lasting relationships, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see our efforts being recognized and celebrated at platforms like the Supergen ORE Hub Annual Assembly.” 

Reflecting on her participation as a keynote speaker, Hayley added, “Being part of the panel on ‘the global local industry’ was particularly inspiring. It highlighted the immense potential for international collaboration in the offshore renewable energy sector. It’s not just about progress within borders; it’s about how we can learn lessons fast, and collectively drive positive change on a global scale.” 

The Supergen ORE Hub Annual Assembly 2023 was a dynamic platform for knowledge exchange, networking, and, most importantly, driving positive change in the offshore renewable energy landscape. As we move closer to a sustainable energy future, collaborative efforts and impactful research initiatives like ECOWind, championed by the team here at HMC, are pivotal in shaping a cleaner, greener world for generations to come. 

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