The world’s first fully remote inspection of offshore wind farm assets has been carried out by Fugro at the Aberdeen offshore wind farm.
Also known as the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, the space was inspected by the firm’s Blue Essence uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) with Blue Volta, an electrical remotely operated vehicle (eROV).
The process was jointly funded by Vattenfall and Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.
Blue Volta, which was remotely launched and recovered from Fugro’s remote operations centre (ROC) in Aberdeen, delivered a number of inspections on the structure of the wind turbines to assess their stability and safety.
A map of the seabed was also created using data gathered from a deepwater multibeam echosounder sensor mounted on the hull of the vessel.
The acquired data was accessed in real-time, allowing Vattenfall to make decisions about its asset maintenance programme.
Fugro says that its Blue Essence can remain at sea for two weeks executing inspection activities without refuelling, this cuts carbon emissions by 95 % when compared to conventional ROV support vessels.
Håkan Borgström, deputy director of the O&M product line, offshore wind at Vattenfall said: “This is a technology that could signify a real step forward for the industry, particularly from a safety perspective – reducing the need to deploy teams offshore, with survey work instead able to be managed from onshore.
“As projects become increasingly far out to sea, this will also mean significantly lower carbon emissions which is a vital part of Vattenfall’s mission to deliver fossil-free living within a generation.”
Fugro’s USV and remote working director for Europe and Africa, Nick Simmons, added: “This is a landmark moment for offshore operations and demonstrates how remote technologies are bringing significant benefits to the offshore wind industry.
“Our USVs can be operated from our global network of ROCs, allowing us to deliver faster and more sustainable inspection and geophysical services from onshore locations, which are also much safer for crew than the offshore environment.”
Fugro recently assisted TAQA Netherlands as it became Europe’s first oil and gas operator to complete an uncrewed offshore integrity inspection.
The campaign utilised a USV and an electrical remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
The project was a collaborative effort between TAQA and Fugro and was seen as an opportunity to trial the use of its new Blue Essence vessel, “Fugro Orca” and the accompanying eROV ‘Blue Volta’ for underwater inspections.