Newcastle University is to lead an offshore energy “audit” to assess how northern England and Scotland can become a major global manufacturing and export hub for renewables technology.
The study – drawing on the expertise of a wide range of partners in the project – will explore the capabilities of major ports, although its focus is on just the three on the rivers Humber, Mersey and Tyne.
Professor Nick Wright, pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation, Newcastle University, said: “Our ambition is to develop the UK as a global leader in innovation in offshore energy, sustainably reducing the cost of energy across infrastructure design and supply.
“This audit will focus on the offshore energy sector and related innovation areas across the marine economy, drawing together evidence on research and innovation capabilities throughout the UK to identify opportunities for economic and scientific benefits.
“It will also assess how northern England and Scotland can transform from an implementation hub for imported offshore wind-energy technology to a major export hub for UK manufacturing and services in this sector.”
Prof Wright added knowledge gained from the study would help to “transform current expertise in oil and gas into a proactive export-led sustainable ocean technologies approach”.
The project is one of eight science and innovation audits (SIAs) that were announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement on Wednesday.
Universities in Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York – under the umbrella of the nine-year-old N8 Research Partnership – will be at the heart of work to take forward proposals focused on enterprise and innovation.
Funding of £100million will be provided until 2020-21 to encourage the universities to collaborate on technology transfer and working with businesses, with a view to commercialising research.
The audit themes align closely with the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review published earlier in the year, which identified capabilities in energy, digital, health innovation, and advanced manufacturing that could provide the foundations for closing gaps in productivity, generating new jobs and improving global competitiveness.