Pioneering global offshore wind farm owner Northland Power has selected Subsea Europe Services as its partner for a ground-breaking pilot project in Summer 2023 at the Deutsche Bucht Offshore Wind Farm that will place autonomous marine survey and underwater inspection at the heart of its Operations & Maintenance (O&M) programs.
The greenlight for the project which starts this July follows the successful harbour testing of Subsea Europe Services’ Autonomous Surveyor Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) and A.IKANBILIS Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV), which took place in May on the Albert Betz Service Operation Vessel (SOV) in Eemshaven, the Netherlands.
Northland Power will task Subsea Europe Services’ Autonomous Surveyor and A.IKANBILIS to deliver the complete offshore wind foundation survey and inspection scope. While the Autonomous Surveyor USV will conduct multibeam echosounder surveys to monitor the Inter-Array Cable routes and potential scouring at the foundations, the A.IKANBILIS HAUV will conduct general visual inspections of the foundations, from water level all the way down to the seabed. All survey and inspection work will be carried out with only minimal human involvement.
Uniquely, both autonomous platforms will remain resident at the wind farm for the duration of the pilot project, using the SOV for the safe and efficient launch, recovery and storage of the Autonomous Surveyor and A.IKANBILIS. The SOV will become the mothership and centre of operations for autonomous survey and underwater inspection operations within a highly automated project workflow: from planning and execution to reporting and data delivery. This approach significantly reduces the number of personnel and vessels required offshore, making the wind farm a safer, greener and even more efficient workplace.
“New technologies including autonomous platforms are integral to optimising our O&M strategies,” said Jan Schmökel, Balance of Plant Engineer, Northland Power. “We’re impressed with the Subsea Europe Services autonomous vessel fleet and their expert team so far, and as a company dedicated to innovation in pursuit of safe and efficient marine operations, we can’t wait to see the difference they make at Deutsche Bucht during the forthcoming pilot project.”
“This project is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the power of True Autonomy when applied to both surface and underwater tasks at an operating wind farm,” said Sören Themann, CEO, Subsea Europe Services. “Our approach makes it possible to significantly reduce the number of personnel and vessels required on-site, which unlocks HSE, environmental and economic benefits while optimising workflows for faster acquisition of higher quality data using fewer resources.”
Northland Power is 100% owner of Deutsche Bucht offshore wind farm, which is located 95 km west of Borkum in the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Deutsche Bucht has an operating capacity of 252 MW, meeting the annual energy needs of 300,000 people and reducing the annual CO2 emissions of Germany by 700,000 tons.