The iX challenge competition, delivered by KTN, is supporting Ørsted to identify innovative approaches for dealing with a significant and immediate challenge arising from a waste stream. The business(es) with the most promising solution(s), as selected by the challenge owner, may be given a commercial opportunity to deliver their solution and receive support from KTN and the wider Innovate UK network.

The Innovation Exchange programme is working alongside Ørsted to help them reach out to potential innovators that might have solutions involving the upcycling of Transition Piece (TP) covers. The TP cover is a robust, watertight cover that protects the internal working space during the construction phase of an offshore wind turbine. The cover allows works prior to turbine installation to be shielded from the environment and prevents seabirds from being trapped.

The TP covers are only used for one installation, and once turbine assembly is complete, the cover must be disposed of. Ørsted is looking to engage innovators and innovative organisations that might have approaches and solutions for reprocessing TP covers and a suitable and sustainability-promoting end use case. Solutions in or around the Humber region offering a local, sustainable supply chain would be more favourable.

Until long-term mitigations can be identified and implemented, the immediate issue of TP cover landfill waste from Hornsea 2 must be solved. To inspire local innovators and possibly create more local jobs, Orsted, therefore, invites the community to work alongside them to turn this waste product into a resource that can be upcycled to create a valuable and sustainable new product. An internal pilot has been run and transformed 15 discarded soft PVC covers into reusable consumer bags. With 140+ covers, however, Ørsted faces a challenge of an entirely different scale.

Presently, no alternative solutions to TP covers have been identified that provide sustainability benefits without sacrificing performance. In addition, this issue will continue as the demand for TP covers will continue to increase corresponding to the increasing demand for offshore wind energy.

Until mitigation measures can be put in place, Ørsted would like to take this opportunity to create an open innovation challenge that will:

  • Find sustainability-promoting options to upcycle the TP covers from Hornsea 2 wind farm (HOW02).
  • Develop and support waste initiatives that can promote green transformation in local communities.

If successful, the winning proposal(s) would receive the material at no cost and would be encouraged to replicate the process for other types of upcyclable waste.

During the last half of 2021, construction of the HOW02 project will entail that more than 10 tonnes of used TP covers will arrive at the Hull site destined for landfill. By the end of the innovation challenge, most of the material will have arrived for temporary storage in Ørsted’s warehouse, with the rest being delivered incrementally approximately every fortnight. These particular TP covers are made from Panama 900 PVC.

For this challenge, Ørsted’s evaluation will favour submissions from innovators that can demonstrate a sustainable use case for this material. Ideally, the winning proposal(s) will demonstrate the ability to process the waste stream into new products or materials which have a significant life span (12+ months) after upcycling, as opposed to a short period of use prior to being discarded in a landfill.

Please note that the material is infused with plasticisers. This means that end uses featuring direct and prolonged contact with either consumables or skin, especially of children, is prohibited.

The challenge may find a suitable solution in an award to more than one provider. The challenge host, KTN, can facilitate relationships should this prove helpful in achieving the upcycling goal. As an example, one synergistic relationship could be introducing a pair of innovators who have either a use case and no ability to process, or a processer with no use case.

Rewards and Benefits

Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to the challenger. The package may also include:

  • Support and facilities from the challenge holder to test and develop the systems within their own laboratory space with the product needing cleaning.
  • Support from KTN.
  • Support in the development of a prototype or pilot.
  • Technical support.
  • Invitation to attend or present at KTN events.
  • A potential business collaboration.
  • Investor introductions (if investment is required).
  • Support if any innovation or similar competitions are relevant.