The offshore wind industry in East Anglia is again at the forefront of innovation, following the successful installation of a pioneering floating wind monitoring device in ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE windfarm zone.
The project is part of the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, managed by the Carbon Trust. In the last few weeks a floating LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system has been deployed to test and validate wind, wave and climate data.
Floating LiDAR devices could ultimately replace the need for traditional steel lattice meteorological masts if trials prove to be successful, and vastly reduce costs. Based on a traditional buoy design, the floating LiDAR system is equipped with a range of advanced monitoring technology. The device is compact, mobile and easy to install, so it can be moved around easily within the windfarm site. There is also minimal impact on the seascape and no requirement for planning permission.
Fugro is supplying all the equipment being used in the test project. Previously the company has undertaken investigative work on the East Anglia ONE windfarm site, including a shallow geological survey of the export cable route and along the 26 miles to shore, and deeper geotechnical investigations for the turbine foundation design.
Local vessel, The Suffolk Spirit, assisted with the installation process, which was also supported by Small & Co, a Lowestoft-based marine engineering company.
Charlie Jordan, ScottishPower Renewables project director for East Anglia ONE, said: “The floating LiDAR concept has the potential to deliver major benefits for the entire offshore wind industry, not least by offering substantial cost reductions. We are committed to driving down costs in all aspects of delivering an offshore windfarm, and this trial project in East Anglia will play a key role in proving the advantages of the new technology.
“We were also very pleased to work with a number of local companies to successfully install the device, which highlights the range of businesses working in the East Anglia region that can offer support to all aspects of an offshore windfarm project.”
The trials will take place for a period of 6 months, and data will be tested against readings from the existing meteorological mast to ensure accuracy. Initial data suggests that the installation has been a success.
Megan Smith, Wakes and Wind Resource research manager at the Carbon Trust said “We are very pleased to be further supporting our extensive work in floating LiDAR with this latest trial at East Anglia.”
The Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator has published a roadmap for commercial acceptance of floating LiDAR technology. This document describes three stages of commercialisation in terms of accuracy and availability KPIs. It also explains how measurement uncertainties decrease as a floating LiDAR device moves from Stage 1 (baseline) through to Stage 2 (pre-commercial) and finally Stage 3 (commercial).