Offshore wind turbines are examples of superb industrial design but often struggle to survive in the harsh offshore environment. Both the turbine structure above the waterline and the foundation structures are subject to different stresses such as intense dynamic loading due to exposure to waves, currents, and seabed scour. All these factors coupled with poor subsea visibility make operating in these conditions very challenging. The imperative for Operations & Maintenance (O&M) is being able to regularly inspect the subsea assets of an offshore structure reliably and cost-effectively. To achieve this objective, sophisticated bespoke equipment, including smart Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), drones, and a range of sensors, have been used for remote monitoring and maintenance.
The Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CRIS) team at the University of Limerick has been involved in many projects focused on close-quarter inspections of offshore structures. Our most recent offshore deployment survey was conducted on board RV Tom Crean, and was conducted as a part of the SEAI Robots for Wind project.
The trials’ primary outcome has been to develop a framework and technique for visually inspecting offshore renewables, both above and below the waterline. The focus of the ship-time is trialling comprehensive multi-disciplinary inspection methods, utilising new technologies to enable automated offshore floating wind inspection. It included the use of aerial drones and underwater remote-operated vehicles.
The objective is to demonstrate our capacities to safely and efficiently perform underwater and aerial high-resolution offshore wind inspection in a harsh environment.
Videos from the cruse: