Rig could improve availability of offshore wind farms

Funding from Scottish Enterprise has helped Strathclyde University invest in a new experimental rig facility to test offshore wind condition-monitoring technologies.

According to the university, the rig will allow researchers to develop innovative techniques to improve the availability of offshore wind farms and reduce the need for expensive, reactive maintenance.

The new facility, based at the university’s £2.6m Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring, will initially focus on technology to monitor the condition of offshore gearboxes, including advanced remote sensors to detect how they are being affected by extreme wind conditions.

Prof Scott MacGregor, dean of the university’s Faculty of Engineering, said: ‘The Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring is geared to play an important role in helping to meet renewable energy targets for Scotland and will provide cost-effective technology that maximises the potential of offshore installations.’ 

The Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring is said to be part of the Scottish Energy Laboratory that was launched to strengthen collaboration across Scotland’s key test and demonstration facilities.

This network of facilities has a combined investment value of £250m across all key energy sectors and will be a hub for national and international companies to identify and access the most appropriate of Scotland’s test and demonstration facilities for their technologies.

Estimates suggest that by 2050 offshore wind could be worth £65bn to the UK and could support hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Neil Francis, Scottish Enterprise senior director for technology and sector delivery, said: ‘Supporting this offshore renewable energy project will help to increase Scotland’s R&D [research and development] capacity and capability in condition monitoring and the development of integrated solutions for offshore operations and maintenance.’