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Fraunhofer UK and partners to address ocean energy electrical infrastructure integrity

EBR Staff Writer Published 18 January 2016

Fraunhofer UK has partnered with Synaptec and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) to help address infrastructure integrity within marine renewable energy industry.


The partners will work on offshore renewable energy cable health monitoring using integrated distributed sensor systems (Orchids) project to address the challenges related subsea cable health.

The Orchids project, which is backed by the UK government's InnovateUK, aims to enhance subsea cable monitoring capabilities by combining electrical sensing technologies with acoustic sensing techniques.

InnovateUK offshore renewables specialist David Hytch said: "As business focused innovation experts, Innovate UK recognized the potential benefits of the Orchids project to reduce the cost of offshore renewable energy and improve the use of these technologies for sustainable, secure and competitive power generation in the future.

"Thinking about the future and supporting projects involving businesses with high growth potential is exactly what Innovate UK is for and we are pleased to be able to provide funding for Orchids and help to connect the collaborators through the Energy Catalyst program."

In particular, the partners will integrate the emerging optical sensing techniques in order to enable a smart cable management system which can be used during manufacture, transport, installation and through to end of life.

Fraunhofer UK senior researcher Henry Bookey said that the project is expected to address the technical and commercial challenges and enable the first commercial deployment of the combined smart cable system.

Bookey added: "The use of optical fibers found within modern power cables as a cable condition monitor combined with innovative current and voltage sensors is an attractive prospect for offshore infrastructure monitoring."

EMEC said that the feasibility study will include market assessment focusing on the commercial case for the technology as well as a technical review of different distributed fiber sensing techniques.

Synaptec managing director Philip Orr said: "We firmly believe that making full use of optical fibres that are now intrinsic to power transmission lines and cables will lead to improved instrumentation coverage in a cost-effective way, and to enabling a smarter, more adaptive electricity network."

Image: Armored subsea cables. Photo: courtesy of European Marine Energy Centre.