New era of distributed sensor systems
Light-speed tech innovation heralds new era of distributed sensor systems for offshore renewables
A new distributed instrumentation technology called Refase, from tech-start up Synaptec, significantly reduces operating costs for offshore renewables operators by automating the response to subsea power cable faults – significantly reducing the outage and repair costs caused by subsea power cable faults.
By sending and reflecting light along just one of the dozens of optical fibres available inside subsea power cables, Refase reaches an unprecedented 100km out to sea and collates electrical performance measurements from up to 50 different locations at the speed of light and completely passively. Because the technology is small enough to fit and smart enough to distinguish which cable section failed faults can now be recognised – and then responded to – in any single cable connecting any number of turbines together.
The reason this is so significant for the industry is speed. Refase recognises faults in a specific cable and within milliseconds permits unaffected cables and turbines to return to production – much faster than humans or even circuit breakers respond to the fault. The result is significantly reduced O&M response times, repair costs, asset damage and income loss.
Philip Orr, Managing Director at Synaptec said: “Until now, no-one has been able to use optical fibre for real-time monitoring and control of offshore wind power assets, which by their nature are remote and inaccessible. Optical fibre is the gold standard for long range applications like this so using something you already paid for to remote detect faults and automate the response offers significant capex and operating cost savings for operators. Refase sensors fit in the palm of your hand and require no power supply, making retrofitting inside the transition piece fast, safe and easy to schedule into existing maintenance cycles.”
Synaptec’s objective with Refase is to reduce operating costs by eliminating human response costs, by minimising loss of income, returning healthy cables and turbines to generation in milliseconds instead of days. And, finally, by avoiding the damage from repeat exposure to faults caused by manual fault location, the production lifespan of turbines is extended.