About The project

What is UNITED?

The UNITED is a research project co-financed by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme. The acronym UNITED stands for Multi-Use offshore platforms demoNstrators for boostIng cost-effecTive and Eco-friendly proDuction in sustainable marine activities.

The UNITED project will run from 2020 until 2023 and provide evidence for the viability of ocean multi-use through the development of five demonstration pilots in the real European marine environment. UNITED will:

  • Address current bottlenecks relating to the large-scale installation of ocean multi-use activities;
  • Demonstrate business synergies and benefits of ocean multi-use;
  • Provide a roadmap for deployment in future multi-use sites and potential scaling barriers to be addressed through best practices and lessons learnt

UNITED will enhance the technology readiness levels of multi-use solutions, involving industrial actors and integrating knowledge, technologies and facilities. It will also propose business models to reduce operation costs and generate benefits to all sectors involved.

Demonstrating the success of the UNITED pilots will boost the capacity of the Blue Economy within European waters and increase the efficiency and multi-functionality between traditionally competing interests in these sectors.

Key facts

5 pillars

The UNITED activities will include a review of the State-of-the-Art of ocean multi-use and the development of Roadmaps for five real-life demonstration pilots.

Find out how UNITED will enhance the viability of ocean multi-use and address current challenges across five key pillars:

Elaboration on the five pillars will be followed by the Implementation Phase and the Assessment and Validation Phase

5 pilots

The UNITED activities will be based in five real-life ocean multi-use pilot sites, where different combinations of activities are already being carried out or are currently at the implementation stage:

  • German pilot – offshore wind farm, cultivation of blue mussels and seaweed
  • Dutch pilot – offshore wind farm, floating solar and seaweed cultivation
  • Belgian pilot – offshore wind farm, cultivation of flat oysters and seaweed, and restoration of oyster ecosystems
  • Danish pilot – offshore wind farm and visits to wind turbines (tourists, technicians from the sectors, etc.)
  • Greek pilot – aquaculture (fisheries) and leisure scuba diving.
5 Blue Economy sectors

The five UNITED pilot will host different combinations of maritime activities belonging to a wide array of Blue Economy sectors:

  • Renewable energy – offshore wind farms and floating solar sytems
  • Aquaculture – Blue mussels, flat oysters and fisheries
  • Bio-resources – including seaweed
  • Tourism – including recreational and educational visits to wind turbines and diving
  • Maritime transport – including leisure boat tours and maritime traffic related to expanding marine wind parks
3 Regional Seas

The five UNITED pilots are located in three European seas, to best represent the diversity of operating conditions:

  • Baltic Sea
  • North Sea
  • Mediterranean Sea

The technologies researched and implemented by UNITED will be tested near-shore before implementation offshore and will thus include research of both more subdued conditions near-shore as well as more critical conditions offshore.

3 Technology Readiness Levels

The UNITED activities will bring technology in the five pilots across three Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) with the aim of bringing the demonstration pilots to TRL7, showcasing the operations of ocean multi-use and co-location for 1-2 years:

  • TRL5: Technology validated in relevant environment
  • TRL6: Technology demonstrated in relevant environment
  • TRL7: System prototype demonstration in operational environment
3 Implementation Phases

UNITED will elaborate on the five pillars offering solutions to each pilot, which will then be implemented in three phases:

  • Pre-operational phase: activities related to systems, material development and pre-testing; capacity building for offshore deployment; and installation and prefabrication for real-life ocean multi-use deployment.
  • Operational phase: the ocean multi-use elements will be assembled together on-site. All activities planned for the pilot sites, including technological developments, active site work and monitoring systems, will be realised at the pilots.
  • Post-operational phase: the features added during the previous phases will have to be removed from the site (if applicable) in a decommissioning phase.

The viability of ocean multi-use solutions will be promoted through the UNITED activities by:

  • Realising pilots from TRL5 to TRL7;
  • Improving health and safety of ocean multi-use solutions;
  • Reducing implementation costs and enhancing economic viability;
  • Raising societal awareness, involving local communities and securing social acceptance; 
  • Improving skills and competencies of those working and being trained to work within the Blue Economy; and 
  • Contributing to policy making in research, innovation and technology.

UNITED activities will be articulated across a series of milestones and publications.

What is Ocean multi-use?

Ocean multi-use is the intentional shared use of marine resources in close geographic proximity by two or more maritime activities. It is an umbrella term that covers many combinations of maritime activities and represents a radical change from the concept of exclusive resource rights - to the inclusive sharing of marine resources and space by one or more activities. The degree of connectivity between different maritime uses can vary with respect to spatial, temporal, provisioning and functional dimensions – ranging from two uses merely sharing the ‘same’ maritime space (co-location), to shared platforms and other infrastructure. Therefore, Multi-Use is not limited to the joint use of installations, but also encompasses joint activities. 


UNITED project Milestones

State of the art multi-platform solutions reviewed
June 2020

Inventory of legal, insurance, risks and governance aspects completed
October 2020

Production and pre-installation of plant components and preparation of offshore-equipment
April 2021

Technological requirements from pilots addressed
June 2021

 

Installation at pilots
October 2021

Decision Support System developed
June 2022

Pilot environmental impact briefs
June 2022

TRL assessment completed
September 2022

Pilot business briefs
October 2022

 

Training workshops completed
October 2022

Decommissioning of the platforms
December 2022

UNITED Framework established
June 2023

Synthesis completed of risk governance
June 2023

Commercialisation roadmap established
June 2023