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UK companies demonstrate new tech solutions to aid future offshore wind maintenance

View all news from: Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult
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31 August 2022

Two UK companies have effectively demonstrated innovative technology solutions, alongside GE Renewable Energy and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, to support future offshore wind developments. 

Eleven-I and Innvotek carried out the work through GE Renewable Energy and ORE Catapult’s ‘Stay Ashore’ research and development programme, and the Robotics Challenge sub project delivered through the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub’s Innovation Exchange (OWiX) in partnership with KTN.

Innvotek, a Cambridge-based innovation consultancy, has been able to further develop a robotic crawler, which uses magnetic technology to attach itself to a turbine generator and autonomously detect the presence of certain features in order to carry out vital maintenance work.  

Derbyshire-based Eleven-I have used the project to further develop their structural health monitoring system, which uses cutting edge software and data analysis to monitor blade health throughout its lifetime.

Both companies were able to make extensive use of the technical support and testing capabilities offered by working directly with ORE Catapult and GE Renewable Energy, and this led to valuable learnings for both which they can now add into the future deployment of their technology. 

Graham Smith, Principal Portfolio Manager at ORE Catapult, said: "It’s been fantastic to work with these two innovative UK companies, alongside our colleagues at GE Renewable Energy, through the Stay Ashore programme. The progression this has allowed for each of their solutions will go a long way to helping improve several aspects of future offshore wind development, as well as continuing to grow the opportunities for more UK companies in similar fields of expertise.” 

Vincent Schellings, Chief Technology Officer at GE Renewable Energy Offshore Wind, said: "The ‘Stay Ashore’ programme continues to drive improvements for the offshore wind industry. These innovative solutions aim to improve operational efficiency and safety. This will be vital as the offshore wind industry grows to meet the world’s decarbonisation targets. We’re proud to base this research in the UK, supporting the UK with its target to reach 50 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030.”

Bill Slatter, Chief Executive at Eleven-I, said: "Working with ORE Catapult has allowed us to draw on their fantastic collective knowledge and facilities to fast track the development and demonstration of our wind turbine blade monitoring system, which has now been adopted by a number of OEMs and Operators.”

Michael Corsar, Chief Technology Officer at Innvotek, said: "The team are very happy with the successful completion of the testing for the robot. It’s been so exciting to be part of the Stay Ashore programme, which has been a vital part of progressing our technology, and we firmly believe this will reduce the time people have to spend working in challenging conditions. It’s an ideal job for a robotic solution like this.”

The development of robotics is seen as a vital component in the future roll out of offshore wind developments in the UK, and according to ORE Catapult research, could cut inspection costs by almost 40% in the years to come.