The project which has been funded by Innovate UK, aims to research practical solutions to minimise the impacts of biofouling on Offshore Wind Turbines (OWT).

Offshore wind energy has been instrumental in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and rendering the UK less dependent on imports to cover its energy needs. As such, large investment programmes and favourable legislation have been driving growth in the sector with overall capacity doubling every five years, a trend that is set to continue up to 2030.  However, offshore wind energy costs remain high and the increasing depth and distance from the shore continue to drive maintenance costs up, especially those associated to the substructure, limiting the sector’s growth potential.

The biggest challenge is dealing with biofouling (settlement and growth of organisms) on the OWT transition piece and monopile. The consequence of which is an acceleration in corrosion of components affecting the functionality and survivability of the offshore  assets, which in turn can make the OTW’s increasingly costly, challenging, dangerous, and ineffective.

CleanWinTur will address both issues by developing an ultrasonic system that performs continuous condition monitoring and effective anti-fouling, thereby enabling the implementation of predictive and or condition-based maintenance and reduce OPEX.

Djelloul Seghier, Project Manager at NDT Consultants, said: “The CleanWinTur consortium includes businesses with a blend of expertise which is required to drive this innovative project forward. NDT Consultants specialise in Non-Destructive Testing and have expertise in ultrasonic testing.  We work very closely with offshore operators and therefore fully recognise the importance of developing systems to ensure the industry can overcome and limit the negative impacts that biofouling can bring.

“We are confident that the investigation will find real practical solutions to solve ongoing biofouling challenges, which will have a positive impact on the Offshore Wind sector and potentially save the industry millions, as well as creating new jobs after commercialisation.”

Myles Heward, Performance Test Engineer at EMEC, who is leading the real-sea testing explained: “EMEC are delighted to be working on this project and to test the protype system in the controlled environment here in Orkney. This will allow for lessons to be learnt from testing in real sea conditions, which will ensure the system is fully optimised before it is installed on E.ON’s infrastructure.  EMEC are well known for testing wave and tidal devices, however we’re enthusiastic to be diversifying into Offshore Wind testing as well as research and development projects to help the industry progress towards a clean energy system.”

Source: Company Press Release