ORE Catapult, ABP, Microsoft & Co to Create World’s Biggest Offshore Wind ‘Living Lab’ in UK

A consortium led by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has launched a project that will create the biggest offshore wind “living lab” in the world in the UK through the development of a 5G Testbed that includes Grimsby Port and the Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind farm.

ORE Catapult

The GBP 2.8 million (approximately EUR 3.2 million) project, which will run until March 2024, involves setting up a 5G Testbed to allow technology providers to test and demonstrate their equipment in real-world conditions, with access to reliable, high-speed communications.

The aim is to kickstart a digital revolution in offshore wind operations and maintenance (O&M) and accelerate the development of a new generation of digital technologies essential for the expansion of offshore wind generation, according to ORE Catapult, which partnered with Microsoft, Vilicom, JET Connectivity, XceCo, Associated British Ports (ABP), Acceleran and Satellite Applications Catapult to realise the project.

“The offshore wind sector is growing rapidly, increasing the need for Operations & Maintenance (O&M), which can be both expensive and hazardous. On average, O&M accounts for 25% of the total lifetime cost of an offshore wind farm, and as the sector expands, there is a strong push to reduce this cost by using robotics and autonomous solutions to support necessary inspections, maintenance and repair”, ORE Catapult says.

While 5G is being installed in new wind farms, these digital solutions are not available for wider development and testing. The “living lab” project will create the 5G infrastructure that provides an accessible and operationally integrated Testbed for new technologies, according to the project leader.

The Testbed will comprise two 5G technology development and demonstration zones over the existing fibre network, one built at Grimsby Port and the other within the Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind farm.

Fifteen 5G radio transmitters will be placed across five sites including wind turbines and a radio mast, and two 5G solar-powered buoys will provide an extended 5G network beyond the range of the wind farm.

“The Testbed will demonstrate the benefits of new remote digital solutions that require high bandwidth, low latency wireless communications – aimed at making O&M safer, greener and more effective”, said Ben George, head of Smart Operations and Maintenance (O&M) at ORE Catapult.

“It will provide a real-world development, demonstration and test zone for robotics and autonomous systems (RAS), remote sensors, wearable technology, cyber security, zero emission vessels, smart ports, and aquaculture that will drive the digital future of O&M. This gives UK innovators and technology developers the upper hand as they bring new products and services to market, including for export into an offshore wind sector that is booming around the world.

To bring the 5G testbed project forward, ORE Catapult has signed collaboration agreements with each of the project partners, including Associated British Ports (ABP), the owner and operator of Grimsby Port, and XceCo, the operator of Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farm where the offshore elements of the network will be located.

Microsoft is the core integrated technology provider for the project while JET Connectivity, a developer of RAN equipment and high bandwidth and high-speed connectivity at sea, will be providing the 5G solar-powered buoys.

The consortium also gathers Satellite Applications Catapult (SAC) which will provide specialist advice, design and industry liaison, network designer and installer Vilicom, and Accelleran, a provider of Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN).

Lynn and Inner Dowsing are two adjacent offshore wind farms located off the Lincolnshire coast, UK, which comprise a total of 54 wind turbines that make up the wind farm’s total capacity of 194 MW.


Get in front of your target audience in one move! OffshoreWIND.biz is read by thousands of offshore wind professionals daily.

Follow offshoreWIND.biz on: