A consortium of robotics experts is receiving a £4 million boost to develop wind farm maintenance technology.
The Holistic Operation and Maintenance for Energy from Offshore Wind Farms (HOME-Offshore) will use the grant to create autonomous systems that can remotely inspect the condition of subsea power cables, identify problems early and repair them relatively quickly and easily.
The project brings together internationally recognised experts from the University of Manchester, the University of Warwick, Cranfield University, Durham University and Heriot-Watt University.
The researchers say if the UK Government’s ambitious decarbonisation targets are to be achieved, it will need to focus more on technologies to support the operation and maintenance of wind farm assets rather than being solely concerned with reducing capital expenditure.
Dr David Flynn, Director of the Smart Systems Group at Heriot-Watt University, said: “We aim to provide the UK with a competitive advantage within the highly lucrative offshore energy market.
“Our hybrid, human-robotics, technology will seek to protect those most vulnerable to increases in the cost of energy by reducing the costs faced by both tax and bill payers. Currently 70% of cable failure modes cannot be monitored in-situ, inhibiting accurate health monitoring.”
Around a quarter of the funding will be sourced from the offshore wind industry, with the rest coming from government.
The UK’s offshore wind industry has seen cost reductions of 32% – four years ahead of schedule.