In March 2020, the German Maritime Centre commissioned Prognos AG to conduct a market and potential analysis for a test centre that would test innovative marine technologies under offshore conditions.
The study provides an overview of the international market environment for test centres in the marine technology segment. An international stakeholder analysis of technologies and test facilities was carried out and stakeholders from the marine technology industry and science were interviewed.
“With this study, the German Maritime Centre is helping to strengthen the maritime industry”, says a delighted Claus Brandt, managing director of the German Maritime Centre.
The aim of the study was to determine the need and economic potential of a German test centre in the North Sea off the island of Heligoland. “It’s about new methods and technologies from mobile robotics, sensor technology, autonomous systems and drones for use above, on and under water, because they can independently, reliably, safely and efficiently carry out work that is dangerous and tiring for humans”, says Frederik Treuel, strategy and international monitoring officer and project manager for the study at the German Maritime Centre.
The study concludes that a test centre will bring benefits and advantages to the entire maritime industry. “Particularly in the field of marine technology, opportunities are opening up for German companies. The study shows that, especially in the offshore wind industry, there are positive growth prospects in many fields of application”, says Claus Brandt.
Germany plays a leading role in some fields, such as offshore wind, marine energy, mine clearance or marine research. Likewise, Germany’s excellent research landscape is internationally competitive.
“We expect high growth in the maritime generation of climate-neutral energy and an equally high innovation dynamic in the technologies for exploration, maintenance and servicing in this market segment”, says Treuel. “In conjunction with advancing automation and autonomisation”, he continues, “this will create systems that need to be tested offshore and under relevant environmental conditions”.
In Germany, there are currently only two areas that are specifically designed for testing marine technology systems and robotics under real conditions. One is the Digital Ocean Lab in the Baltic Sea off Rostock; the other is the newly founded German Test Centre for Maritime Technologies in the North Sea off the island of Heligoland. There, innovations in mobile robotics, autonomous systems and drones will be tested under real environmental and operational conditions.
The study formulates options for action on how the national test centres could position themselves jointly in order to optimally utilise the potential for the German maritime industry. Demand and willingness to pay for test capacities are still limited, but these are expected to improve in the future.
“We assume that the results of the study will lead to synergies in cooperation within the maritime industry”, Treuel concludes.
With the positive development of the target markets, the increasing demand for new marine technologies and public funding for the maritime economy and research, the need for test centres where such technologies and applications can be developed and tested will also continue to grow.
The recently adopted political strategies of the EU and Germany, such as the Green Deal, which is boosting the importance of the issue of sustainability at the European level, will improve market conditions.
The study was conducted by Prognos AG. The complete study (only in German) can be found here. The study is introduced by a management summary.
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Dr. Regine Klose-Wolf
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