The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
The Carbon Trust, UK, has announced the winners of its latest innovation competition to find novel methods to inspect offshore wind substructures. The competition, launched as part of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, targeted companies with new or adaptable techniques for inspection of offshore wind foundations.
Entries were sought for four specific challenges, including weld inspection for monopile foundations, weld inspection for jacket foundations, grout inspection for monopile foundations and grout inspection for jacket foundations.
Aberdeen, UK-based Oceaneering International Services Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oceaneering International, USA, won in the category of weld inspection for monopile foundations with the development of an inspection tool adapted from previous use in oil and gas.
The weld inspection for jacket foundations included two winners, Oceaneering utilising its experience in oil and gas to provide an innovative technique for inspection of nodes, and Kraken Robotics of Germany having developed a high-resolution laser imaging sensor for inspection of subsea assets.
In collaboration with Ashtead Technology, UK, and Hydrason, UK, Next Geosolutions UKCS, headquartered in London, UK, won in the grout inspection for jackets with a technique based on the use of innovative sonar to detect gaps, cracks and disbanding of grout.
The grout inspection for monopiles included two winners, Uniper Technologies, UK, with its ultrasonic interferometric technique, jointly developed with the British Geological Survey, and Next Geosolutions UKCS with the same technology as for the jacket inspection.
With the deployment of offshore wind set to almost triple in the next 10 years, the need for innovative and low-risk solutions to inspect assets is crucial, according to the Carbon Trust. Current estimates show that around 35-40% of existing monopile fleet, which accounts for the majority of the pre-2012 structures, have potentially been affected by issues relating to grouted joints. Furthermore, many of the structures built post-2012 will require performance monitoring. New designs such as jackets, which are constructed using welded nodes are also becoming more common presenting new inspection challenges for the offshore wind industry.
The winners will initially receive a range of tailored support from the Carbon Trust, the OWA partners and technical contractors INNOSEA, France, and Everoze, UK, which will include marketing advice through to engineering and industry-specific support. Following this phase, those techniques which show significant potential will then be tested at operational offshore wind farms to prove their ability in real life conditions.
“This competition has once again shown the impressive level of innovation and ingenuity that exists within the industry. The range of winners also highlights the transferability of many techniques from other industries into offshore wind, and the potential for other players in these markets to offer services and technologies that could improve operations from both a cost and health and safety perspective,” said Michael Stephenson, project manager of the Foundations Working Area in OWA.
The EU-funded FORESEA programme has approved funding for six developers of offshore renewable energy technologies to deploy technologies at the SmartBay marine and renewable energy test site in Ireland.
The announcement marks a new phase in ocean energy development in Ireland, with more technologies than ever planning to hit the water in the coming two years.
FORESEA is an 11 million-euro project which helps to bring offshore renewable energy technologies to market by providing free access to a world-leading network of test centres. FORESEA’s user selection board awarded a ‘Recommendation for Support’ to demonstration projects led by the following technology developers: Sea Power, Ireland; BluWind Power, Ireland; Marine Power Systems, UK; Blue Ocean Monitoring, Australia; UGen, UK; and Calwave, USA.
A final award of support is secured by the developer upon contract with the test centre.
The announcement follows the granting of a foreshore license to the SmartBay test site in December 2017 by Damien English, the Irish minister of state at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
John Breslin, general manager of SmartBay Ireland, welcomed the awards. “The announcement marks the beginning of a new phase for the development sustainable low carbon technologies in Ireland, with a significant increase in the planned testing of a range of promising devices in the SmartBay test site,” he said.
Gareth Stockman, chief executive officer of Marine Power Systems, said: “With an estimated 100 gigawatts of ocean energy capacity deployable in Europe alone, the potential economic and environmental benefits to be gained from our oceans are significant. Marine Power Systems is developing its wave energy technology, the WaveSub, to generate clean, reliable and affordable electricity from this vast renewable energy source.
“We are delighted to have been recommended for support by FORESEA’s board and look forward to tapping into the expertise and the state-of-the-art facilities at the SmartBay test site as we progress on our journey towards full-scale commercial roll out of the WaveSub.”
The fourth and final FORESEA call for applications opened on 11 October 2017, and aims to help technology developers from other offshore sectors transition into the renewable energy market. The call runs until 29 June 2018.
A Darlington, UK-based subsea specialist is developing an innovative approach to enable AUVs to remain at offshore wind farm sites without a support vessel. The move could shave £1.1billion from the operating cost of Europe’s offshore wind farms and would be a world-first in the sector, according to Modus Seabed Intervention.
Modus, in partnership with Osbit, UK, and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK’s flagship technology innovation and research centre for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, is trialling an AUV docking station. The design will enable vehicle re-charging, as well as the upload of acquired data and download of mission commands.
The use of AUVs to survey and inspect offshore wind farm subsea infrastructure is a relatively new cost-efficiency measure in this sector. Replacing support vessels with the AUV docking station could further reduce expenditure. In addition to the estimated £1.1billion saving across the current 11-gigawatt offshore wind farm fleet over the next 25 years, the scheme will also reduce the need for staff to work in often hazardous environments, Modus said.
“Since 2012, Modus has been focusing on the development of hybrid AUV systems to be deployed for subsea and seabed survey and inspection,” said Jake Tompkins, managing director of Modus and project lead. “Part of our vision is to see AUVs becoming field resident, offering significant cost savings and quality benefits to the markets and our customers.”
The project, AVISIoN, has received funding from Innovate UK. This will enable further development, testing and demonstrations of Modus’ existing hybrid AUV capability and docking station.
Testing will take place at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland. The first phase will use saltwater testing docks and Catapult’s National Anemometry Hub. Offshore wind farm developers Innogy, Germany, EDF Energy, UK, and E.ON, Germany, are also supporting the project, with Innogy agreeing to carry commercial trials at the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm.
“Currently, seabed surveys and infrastructure inspections are carried out by crewed survey vessels using hull-mounted equipment, diving and ROV support vessels” said Andrew Kay, O&M strategy manager for ORE Catapult. “These methods are time consuming, expensive and often heavily weather dependent. But the UK is now leading the world in the development of offshore wind farm subsea autonomous inspection technologies.
“The system being developing with Modus and Osbit will be fully self-sufficient, reducing operational and maintenance costs, as well as the levels of personnel required.”
Tariq Dawood, research engineer at the EDF Energy R&D UK Centre, said: “EDF Energy strongly believes the AVISIoN project will likely lead to a complete rethink in the logistics for subsea surveys for future offshore wind farms.
“We are fully committed to participating in the AVISIoN project to ensure the benefits of a permanent offshore base station for an automated underwater vehicle is realised in terms of improved health and safety and reduced levelised cost of energy.”