New project uses space data for renewable energy

A new approach using space data for development of renewable energy sites will receive support from Cornwall-based marine innovation project Marine-i.

Image: NASA on Unsplash

Developed by space data specialist 4EI, the new approach aims to help  reduce the risks and costs associated with the development of renewable energy sites such as floating offshore wind. 

Marine-i is a collaboration between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, The Cornwall College Group, Cornwall Marine Network, Cornwall Development Company and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

“Our overall aim is the creation of a new marine data management and analysis service that will initially be targeted at the rapidly developing floating offshore wind opportunity in the Celtic Sea,” said Richard Flemmings, chief technical officer of 4EI. 

“Improving and expanding system functions and efficiency whilst identifying critical market opportunities will produce direct cost savings and risk reduction for developments in this sector, increasing market competitiveness and accelerating its penetration into the low carbon energy generation market.”

Satellite Earth Observation can provide data on a range of indicators such as weather, sea state, environmental impacts, vessel activity and thermal signatures.

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The first research stage of the project, with support from Marine-i, will involve identifying innovative Earth Observation data sources, leading to a commercialisation plan for integrating space data and services into the offshore renewables sector.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Neil Farrington said that utilising space derived data could displace more traditional methods of environmental data collection that are heavily dependent on vessels or aircraft and their associated levels of emissions.

Professor Lars Johanning, programme director for Marine-i, added that realising the full potential of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea will require the kind of 'radical new approaches and cutting-edge solutions’ demonstrated by 4EI. 

“This project could have a crucial role to play in helping us to achieve the ambitious targets that we have set for floating offshore wind development over the next ten years,” Johanning said. “It would also put Cornwall at the forefront of a completely new approach to satellite data which would have worldwide applications.”