HOME Offshore is a research project funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which partners 5 leading UK universities. The project will investigate the use of advanced sensing, robotics, virtual reality models and artificial intelligence to reduce maintenance cost and effort for offshore windfarms. Predictive and diagnostic techniques will allow problems to be picked up early, when easy and inexpensive maintenance will allow problems to be readily fixed. Robots and advanced sensors will be used to minimise the need for human intervention in the hazardous offshore environment.
The remote inspection and asset management of offshore wind farms and their connection to shore, is an industry which will be worth up to £2 billion annually by 2025 in the UK alone. 80% to 90% of the cost of offshore Operation and Maintenance according to the Crown Estate is generated by access requirements: such as the need to get engineers and technicians to remote sites to evaluate a problem and decide what action to undertake. Such inspection takes place in a remote and hazardous environment and requires highly trained personnel, of which there is likely to be a shortage in coming years. Additionally much condition monitoring data which is presently generated is not useful or not used effectively.
The project therefore aims to make generate more ‘actionable data’ – useful information that can reduce operation and maintenance costs and improve safety.