The offshore wind industry is a key growth sector for the UK economy and offers huge opportunity for technology companies. It is a market ripe for sensor and imaging systems development, however harsh environmental conditions and difficulties accessing wind turbines far out at sea have traditionally been seen as a barrier to innovation in the sector.
The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s (OREC) has developed a solution to this challenge with its Levenmouth offshore wind demonstration turbine in Fife, Scotland. A full-scale working turbine located just metres from the shoreline, Levenmouth is the world’s most advanced, open access, offshore wind turbine dedicated to research.
A recent OREC competition, funded by the Scottish Government, invited companies to install sensor technology and data systems to address some of the challenges around the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms. Two of the competition winners were CENSIS clients Turner Iceni and Sensor-Works. The companies joined forces, combining the low energy vibration monitoring Bluetooth sensors developed by Sensor-Works with Turner Iceni’s Machine Health Assessment System which monitors the condition of wind turbines.
Prior to submitting their application to the competition, both companies took advantage of the early stage support from CENSIS’s IoT Centre, which offers companies a quick injection of knowledge and a chance to trial a new product. The service is free to qualifying Scottish SMEs and offers up to 10 days’ engineering support, plus hot desk space.
Working with both companies in autumn 2017, CENSIS engineers developed an application programming interface that allowed Sensors-Works’ technology to connect with Turner Iceni’s condition monitoring system. The sensors have now been installed at Levenmouth on a year-long trial and provide remote, real-time data on the health of the turbine.