Increasing asset life
There have been significant efforts to increase the footprint of offshore wind projects and as per a previous article there are now some 4,500 grid-connected wind turbines across 11 countries
But not all are greenfield installations. Installed in 1991, Dong Energy recently decommissioned the world’s oldest windfarm and the average lifespan is regularly quoted to be around 20-25 years with some studies suggesting it could be even less.
Windfarm installations are an extremely costly business and their lifespan is typically calculated on a static model. With the advent of the Internet of Things and Digital Twin platforms an operator can monitor the health of the turbine using real-time data but this is only half the story. The supporting structure itself is as equally important and subject to extreme conditions, fatigue and damage as the turbine and blades are if not more so.
Below the surface however the supporting infrastructure remains largely unmonitored for all manner of issues including corrosion, cracks, leaks, fatigue, wall thickness, cable temperature, or upheaval. Monopiles, jackets and floating structures are all subject to the same forces that oil & gas platforms are under on a daily basis, which reduce the lifespan according to the structural models.
Using wireless smart sensors at key stress points across those subsea structures, operators can update those fatigue models in real-time, gain insight through edge analytics and can expect a typical increase in asset life between 5-15%, reaping the benefits from the difference between decommissioning early in error and maintaining an energy supply for another decade.