Acteon: Breathing new life into floating wind farms using digital response twin

By using new technologies such as digital response twin, one of the tools developed and used successfully in the oil and gas sector, we can extend the life of floating wind farms, Tim Eyles, Vice President of UK-based company Acteon revealed.

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At this year’s Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC), Eyles, together with Ben Andrew, Director of 2H Offshore, discussed the challenges the companies are facing when developing the floating wind farms and how equipment and processes used in the oil and gas sector can help ease and resolve these challenges.

Acteon provides products and services for the renewable near-shore construction and the oil and gas sectors across all phases of the life cycle. During its remarks, Eyles unveiled that they are currently working on the operations and maintenance plans for future floating wind farms both in the UK and in the USA, and they will probably work in places like Japan and Taiwan.

“Places like Japan, Taiwan, places in the USA, floating wind will play a key part in,enabling renewable energy sources in those regions. There’s a lot of challenges in developing floating wind, especially with the economics,” Eyles stated.

For Ben Andrew, the Director of 2H Offshore, the company working on advanced engineering systems for all types of offshore structures, both in oil and gas and the renewable sectors, the biggest challenge with floating wind is that it’s such a dynamic and complex system.

“There are a lot of complex engineering challenges that interplay with one another. And one of the things we’ve learned in the oil and gas industry over many, many decades is that you need to consider that as a system.”

“If you try and package that up and design individual components in isolation, you end up with a very inefficient system or one that doesn’t work at all. So you need to look at it much more as a system rather than individual packages. You need to understand it holistically,” Andrew emphasized.

The speakers agreed that everything starts early in the design phase when the companies look at all the different failure modes that can happen with a system. For each of those failure modes, there is a need to assess what’s the best type of technique to give you the information.

So you might have to just inspect it visually. Some places on these platforms you can’t inspect. So if it’s critical, do you need to put monitoring on there, permanent monitoring, or do you need to have a spares philosophy?” Eyles noted.

All these things we’ve been used to doing in oil and gas, and we need to translate that now into floating wind… One of the other tools that we’ve developed in oil and gas and used quite successfully is the digital twin. So it’s not a 3D model that you might be used to seeing. This is an analytical model that’s running in the cloud and has been developed using machine learning techniques and others.”

According to Acteon’s Vice President, the digital twin technology gives you an extra set of virtual sensors. The extra information from this technology could not be collected through standard inspections and monitoring. And that tool can then be used to help operations.

So when you do the next wind farm, you can make improvements in cost savings, hopefully. And really importantly, you can look at life extension. Through these tools like digital twin monitoring inspection, what we really want to do is collect data about the asset and how it’s been performing, and look to take the design life for a floating wind farm. Typically, maybe it’s 30 years to start with, can we add another 5, 10, 20 years onto that? And you can only do that with the data you’ve been collecting during the operation of these assets,” Eyles stated.

And again, this is something we’re used to doing in oil and gas, and you’d be familiar with a lot of older platforms, subsea infrastructure, that that’s still operating well beyond its original design life very safely. But that’s come through assessment and data collection. So these are the tools we can use.

When asked about the future technologies and methods that are to be used in these sectors, Eyles noted that the industry will see a variety of solutions.

“I don’t think we’ll end up with one platform technology globally. I suspect we’ll have semis, we have TLPs, spars and another more novel or hybrid solutions. And again, we see that in oil and gas sometimes where you choose a technology that may in one place not make sense, but it makes sense locally because you can manufacture locally. You’ve got a local supply chain support, economic development in that country or that region. So, not one solution fits all,” he added.

They’re exciting projects to work on. They’re cutting edge, you know, they’re giving us renewable energy, so we shouldn’t be afraid to tackle these challenges. We just need to do it thoughtfully,” Eyles concluded.

Watch the full session of “Acteon – unlocking the power of floating wind – leveraging insights from O&G and fixed wind” and learn more about the industry’s challenges and how we can resolve them in the video below:

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