Wind Energy – USV Pilot
Teams from wind farm owner Northland Power and marine technology company Subsea Europe Services have successfully concluded a pilot project to apply state-of-the-art Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) to marine survey and underwater inspection operations at the Deutsche Bucht Offshore Wind Farm, located in the German North Sea.
The July 2023 project was commissioned to verify performance and further develop the operational workflows of Subsea Europe Services’ Autonomous Surveyor USV for multibeam surveying and A.IKANBILIS Hovering AUV (HAUV) for subsea inspections such as scour and marine growth surveys, when deployed from a Service Operations Vessel (SOV) mothership already resident for Operations & Maintenance (O&M) at the wind farm.
The so-called ‘mothership concept’ was proven successful throughout the pilot, with seamless integration of the various teams and equipment working aboard the Albert Betz SOV resulting in a wider weather window for marine survey and underwater inspection operations, with launch and recovery up to Sea State 3 and data acquisition according to the specified requirements.
“Supported by the great teamwork of everybody on board, the additional personnel, equipment and workflows for managing and using the USV and AUV for marine surveying and underwater inspections blended in well with the overall operations of the SOV, demonstrating that the ‘mothership concept’ works in a live scenario,” said Jan Schmökel, Balance of Plant Engineer, Northland Power.
“Our goal is to utilise assets that are already in place within the offshore wind farm O&M framework in order to improve the availability of marine data and significantly reduce the cost of acquiring it,” adds Sören Themann, CEO, Subsea Europe Services GmbH. “Both Autonomous Surveyor and A.IKANBILIS performed well, acquiring actionable data within similar time frames as conventional vehicles including crewed survey vessels and work class ROVs, both of which are more costly to manage and operate.”