Autonomous, robotic and AI enabled biofouling monitoring, cleaning and management system for offshore wind turbine monopile foundations
In the UK the exploitable offshore wind resource is at 6200TWhpa, ~18 times present UK electricity consumption and hence could provide all of the UK's electricity requirement with minimal emission and visual impacts. The major barrier to further exploitation is that the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from offshore wind is £140/MWH. 2-3 times higher than other key renewable sources: onshore wind, solar and. The high LCOE is caused by the severe environment which results in high operational, reliability and maintenance (O&M) costs. Seabed turbine foundations (largely monopile structures) O&M accounts for at least than 25% of all life cycle O&M costs, mostly caused by marine biofouling amounts to 10% of the LCOE and are incurred through the use of divers, ROVs, a support vessel and substantial human team. Even with the deployment of state of the art fouling prevention technology, the fouling thickness deposited on foundations grows continuously, eventually causing stress induced corrosion and crack defects.
The project vision is to replace this expensive and hazardous technology with an intelligent fouling monitoring and cleaning management system (RobFMS) implemented by an autonomous working team of at two or more small mobile robots operating with AI enabled cost minimisation.
The system would save more than £15kpa/MW (50%) of existing monopile fouling management costs, which is a significant contribution to realising the full environmental advantages of offshore wind. It is also adaptable to other types of offshore turbine foundation.
This project was co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.