The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) has launched a new global innovation competition to find and fund the development of innovative solutions to a challenge facing the offshore wind farm industry today: how to monitor the condition of subsea cables to ensure that they are not damaged during the load out and installation process. The competition aims to solve this challenge by identifying and supporting the development of novel condition monitoring systems for subsea cables.
Current available solutions are not able to detect and monitor mechanical cable limits with the required accuracy, so the OWA is searching for new systems and technology ideas from complementary industries such as telecommunications, civil engineering, automotive and oil and gas which could be adapted for subsea cable application.
Looking at £213m in insurance losses from 28 UK offshore wind claims between 2002 and 2015, 68% were directly due to cable faults occurring predominately during the construction phase. Condition monitoring techniques used during the installation process have the potential to reduce instances of these faults, as they can be used to monitor the cable condition and detect potential issues before they develop into failures. Developing a novel monitoring system could dramatically improve the reliability of offshore wind subsea cable systems by ensuring that the cables' mechanical limits are not exceeded in real-time during load out, installation jointing and wind farm operation.
Jan Matthiesen, director of offshore wind at the Carbon Trust, “Damage to cables during the installation of an offshore wind farm is unfortunately a common occurrence, which also results in unnecessary expenditure for the industry. The challenge we face is finding a cost-effective, easy to connect and operate, robust and reliable system which can be used to monitor the condition of subsea cables throughout the cable installation phase. Through this international innovation competition we are really interested in receiving applications from other industries around the world, which have capabilities in measuring and monitoring physical parameters that could result in cable damage”.
Based on recent experience submarine cable procurement costs will account for up to 7% of total capital expenditure when building an offshore wind farm, with cable installation costing another 4%. Longer cable lengths and more challenging conditions in sites further from shore, as well as new innovations such as floating turbines, will all increase the demand for cable condition monitoring during installation in the rapidly expanding offshore wind industry.
The competition entries will be assessed by an expert panel from the OWA. The Scottish Government and the nine OWA developer partners are providing up to £225,000 to support successful innovative concepts. Concepts that show the most promise could also receive further funding to take them to full-scale demonstration.
The OWA is Carbon Trust's flagship collaborative research, development and deployment programme, designed to impact the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) from offshore wind by reducing costs, improving efficiency and availability of existing and future offshore wind farms. The OWA is a joint industry project, involving nine offshore wind developers representing 76% of Europe’s installed capacity, and backed by the Scottish government. Current industry partners are DONG Energy, EnBW, E.ON, Iberdrola, innogy, SSE, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall.