For offshore wind farm operators, there’s relentless pressure on asset performance and operating costs. This pressure is increasing as the first installed wind farms reach the end of their usable life and need to capitalise on the opportunity for life extension. This ultimately adds £15m-£22.5m pa in value for a 500MW wind farm, and generates more renewable energy to offset embodied carbon. Arup uses intelligent monitoring and a digital approach to help its clients assess and extend the lifespan of offshore wind farms, while also reducing maintenance costs.
Extending lifespans and reducing operating cost
Foundations are the only major component of offshore wind farms that cannot be replaced. It’s the foundation that determines the lifespan, through-life cost projections and viability of entire wind farms. Foundation life is calculated using conservative load predictions at design stage. By measuring the loads in-service using our approach, the operational life of the windfarm can be extended from 25 to over 35 years. Our solution analyses data from an innovative system of sensors that continuously measure the load.
Access to regular insight into foundation condition is beneficial throughout the operational stage, and our solution has been used on nine projects to date for a variety of reasons. It enables turbine control system upgrades to be safely implemented, and additional life during asset sales to be justified. It also enables the true implications of unplanned events such as excessive scour or corrosion to be assessed - ultimately empowering clients to move to a risk-based approach to asset management.
Intelligent monitoring for a range of users
Strain gauges are the traditional choice for structural health monitoring. We’ve developed an innovative system using virtual sensors – accelerometers above the waterline that provide total asset insight with improved reliability, and remove the requirement for sub-waterline instrumentation. By combining monitoring and design stage analysis techniques, we cost-effectively deliver insight across the entire wind farm from a subset of monitored locations.
This insight is deployed as an application that clients can access directly - empowering them to gain more insight and control of their assets. Given the range of users - including asset managers, owners, and investors - our solution is modular and tailored to the specific priorities and types of data available for each wind farm. This modular approach enables clients to phase their deployment of digital tools, gaining real value at each stage – the same ethos we recommend on all digital twin projects.