Offshore Wind Vessel Developed with BEC Funding
- Business & Finance
An innovative new vessel designed to cope with the most challenging conditions for crews servicing off-shore windfarms has been developed in West Cumbria with the support of an “Investing in Business” grant from Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC).
The £90,000 grant has been awarded to Workington-based companies Coastal Charters – a small maritime business servicing the commercial sector – and commercial maintenance business SB Engineering, to develop their 21st Century Wave Access vessel project. The project will create nine new jobs, although the figure is set to rise dramatically if it proves a commercial success and full production gets underway in West Cumbria.
The vessel is for use specifically, but not exclusively, in the offshore wind industry and can transport twelve people plus crew in a significantly more fuel efficient, greener and faster way in deteriorating sea conditions. A prototype/demonstrator vessel has been developed and is now about to undergo sea trials thanks to the support from the Investing in Business scheme, which is administered by BEC and funded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
To help get the project to the sea trial stage BEC have also made loans totalling £310,000, drawing on socio-economic funding from nuclear partners. BEC is also providing expert business support to help with sales and marketing activities as part of the comprehensive business support service it provides to firms in West Cumbria.
Nigel Catterson, Interim Chair of Britain’s Energy Coast, said: “The 21st Century Wave Access project is a fantastic example of West Cumbrian innovation being used to tackle major challenges being faced by the growing UK and global off-shore industry. BEC support through the ‘Investing in Business’ programme and the significant loans that we have made in partnership with our nuclear funders, show that we are willing to back this type of cuttingedge activity which one day may become the global market leader in its field. That really is an exciting prospect for us, the local economy and the image of West Cumbria.”
Stephen Beadsmoore, Director at Coastal Charters, said: “Whilst it has not been easy, it is rewarding that through a strong belief in the project and persistent determination that sufficient funds were raised to construct the demonstrator vessel. Britain’s Energy Coast identified with our vision and we are delighted with the financial support that we have received from them; without it this project could not have happened.
“This vessel is the start of a five phase plan that will hopefully see a manufacturing company set up here in West Cumbria providing high value, long term and sustainable employment.”
The Investing in Business programme targeted businesses involved in manufacturing, processing, engineering or fabrication activities, as well as tourism attractions, looking to create jobs by investing in fixed assets such as buildings, plant and equipment or for research and development. It utilised funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and a further £1m from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The programme is now closed, but financial support remains available through BEC ranging from capital grants to loans, to help bridge gaps in overall funding packages.
The project has also received funding from The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency whose goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.