Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and HonuWorx are set to demonstrate a concept for a submersible mothership to be used at offshore wind farms.
The project, funded by Innovate UK, will develop Ridley, a submersible platform that can transport large robots and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to offshore sites and release them directly under the water.
The concept is expected to resolve the remaining barriers to the adoption of subsea robotics by the offshore wind industry in terms of cost, carbon footprint, battery life at sea and digital connectivity.
“While ROVs exist for offshore wind farm inspections, they rarely achieve more than 50% of their annual utilisation as they rely upon large, crewed, diesel-powered vessels for transportation”, ORE Catapult said.
“Largely due to the use of these vessels, a 21-day inspection mission may cost up to £1.5 million and emit more than 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide”.
The platform is said to reduce this financial and environmental cost as it submerges to deploy subsea robots without the need for crane drops.
As a step forward, the developers plan to add automation software for coordinating multiple platforms with communications technologies that can utilise satellite, 4G and 5G.
“Cost reduction, safety improvement and operational integration: those three challenges are driving technology development in offshore wind operations and maintenance. That’s why this project is so significant: it addresses those factors head on, while also aligning with our own priorities around accelerating robotic, sustainable and smart technologies in the sector”, said Ben George, general manager of ORE Catapult’s Operations & Maintenance Centre of Excellence.
“HonuWorx was founded with a vision to accelerate the uptake of underwater robotics technology in vital sectors such as offshore renewables”, said Lee Wilson, CEO and co-founder of HonuWorx.
“Our team has spent many years pushing the envelope in subsea robotics and believe that existing operating modes can no longer scale sustainably, or at the pace needed to address some of our most critical challenges”.