Carbon Trust Throws Down Subsea Inspection Innovation Challenge

Image source: The Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) has launched a competition targeted at finding new ways to inspect offshore wind substructures and reduce the cost of offshore wind.

The competition is open to innovators with inspection technologies that can provide information and data on grout integrity and welds for both monopiles and jackets.

Winners of the competition will get the chance to test their technologies on installed foundations at fully operational wind farms in Europe, as well as receive hands-on mentoring and advice from the nine OWA industry partners.

The competition will run until 13 October 2017, and clarification questions should be sent to the Carbon Trust by 1 September 2017.

The aim of the competition is to help these new technologies access the large potential market and become part of the normal subsea inspection strategy for offshore wind developers.

Current estimates show that around 35-40 per cent of the monopile fleet, majority of the pre-2012 structures, have potentially been affected by issues relating to grouted joints, for example corrosion caused by harsh marine environment. Additionally many of the structures built post-2012 will require performance monitoring. New designs such as jackets, which are constructed using welded nodes are also coming online and these will present new inspection challenges for the industry.

At present, the methods to inspect grouted connections and welds are very limited and do not provide sufficient resolution of data for offshore wind developers, The Carbon Trust said. Therefore, there is limited knowledge on the integrity of the structures which can lead to costly high levels of precaution in the inspection regime, such as conservative preventative maintenance or more regular inspections. By providing a solution that can provide asset owners with the knowledge they require, costs can be reduced significantly and the inspection regimes optimised.

“Offshore wind is now well established in Europe, and is truly entering its operational phase,” Michael Stephenson, Project Manager for the Foundations Research Area, said.

”This comes with fresh challenges but also many opportunities for both new innovation and technology transfer from other industries; this competition represents one such opportunity. The Offshore Wind Accelerator is focused on continuing to reduce the costs of offshore wind, and with this call it is hoped that we can find the next generation of inspection technologies to help the industry continue to drive down prices.”

Periodic maintenance specifications will also be a feature of emerging markets in US, Taiwan, Korea and Japan which present further opportunities for new technologies that can prove cost-effective.

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