Artificial Intelligence and Robots to Make Offshore Wind Farms Safer and Cheaper
EPSRC Funded project HOME-Offshore: Holistic Operation and Maintenance for Energy from Offshore Wind Farms
Offshore wind farms are an important part of sustainable energy production, but the cost of inspecting and maintaining offshore wind farms is made considerably higher by the difficulties of accessibility. Warwick Engineers are part of a major consortium project led by Manchester University; working to address this issue and reduce the costs of accessibility from 80-90% of maintenance outlay. Minimising the need for human intervention offshore is a key route to maximising the potential, and minimising the cost, for offshore low-carbon generation. This will also ensure potential problems are picked up early, when the intervention required is minimal, before major damage has occurred and when maintenance can be scheduled during a good weather window.
The project will investigate the use of advanced sensing, robotics, virtual reality models and artificial intelligence to reduce maintenance cost and effort. Predictive and diagnostic techniques will allow problems to be picked up early, when easy and inexpensive maintenance will allow problems to be readily fixed. Robots and advanced sensors will be used to minimise the need for human intervention in the hazardous offshore environment.
Professor Li Ran and Professor Phil Mawby are international experts in the field of power electronics (PE). They bring their expertise to the PE Condition Monitoring part of the project. A major challenge in offshore wind is to sensitively detect the degradation of power electronics during constantly variable operation. Ran and Mawby’s research will investigate: 1) using complementary sensors at device and converter levels for different operating conditions, and 2) exploiting the fact that a large number of turbine power electronics converters or HVDC submodules are working in statistically correlated conditions for more accurate monitoring and prognosis.
The three-year project will culminate in a public demonstration in Salford Quays, Manchester.