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Saft maintenance-free, lightweight nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery modules are providing power for self-contained, photovoltaic-powered navigation lights.

These lights were developed by Sabik Informationssysteme , the navigation aid specialist, for marking abandoned offshore structures in the Frigg North Sea oilfield.

The decommissioning of the offshore structures involves removal of the main superstructure (topsides and jackets), leaving the concrete gravity bases that still need to be marked as a hazard for shipping.

Since local generation is no longer available, the marker light has to provide its own power.

The 12V battery system is required to store sufficient energy from the light’s PV modules in the spring and autumn months to ensure reliable winter operation.

Ni-MH batteries are suitable for this application as they are sealed for life, requiring no topping up with distilled water or other maintenance.

They easily meet Sabik’s requirement that the entire system should provide four years of maintenance-free operation and, with an anticipated service life of up to 15 years, they will provide reliable power for several tours of duty.

Ni-MH batteries are lightweight, compact and non-spillable.

This makes them easier and safer to transport by helicopter than conventional batteries, and they also take up less space in the light unit.

For comparison, a 100Ah lead-acid battery for this application would weigh 39kg, while the Ni-MH equivalent weighs 18.7kg.

A typical light contains nine modules, while special versions contain up to 18.

The use of Ni-MH batteries saves hundreds of kilograms in weight.

The batteries are based on Saft NHE battery modules.

They provide high-energy density and maintenance-free operation with a high cycle life, and are fully recyclable at the end of their life.

A typical installation will comprise a 500Ah battery to power one or two LED navigation lanterns, a 300Ah battery for the RACON (radar beacon) and a 100Ah battery for the satellite-based remote monitoring system that provides detailed information about the operation of the onboard systems.

The first Sabik self-contained light is already in operation in the North Sea, and delivery of a total of eight units to Total E and P Norge for the Frigg oilfield is in progress.

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