Proserv: Subsea Cable Monitoring & Intelligence
Cable failures are a critical concern – every offshore wind farm is likely to experience an outage at some point, and repairs are both expensive and time-consuming. A typical export cable failure costs more than £12m, and takes more than two months, to fix.
In 2019, a detailed FEED study undertaken by the team at controls technology company Proserv examined the technical basis for the future generation of a solution for subsea cable monitoring. At the same time, a market report identified its possible benefits to the offshore wind industry, including the nature of cable failures that the solution might ultimately detect and predict. These insights highlighted the need and demand for the innovation of a cable monitoring system that could identify anomalies in cable performance at offshore wind farms, before faults occurred.
This critical industry challenge drove Proserv to develop a new product offering for offshore wind, through leading a collaborative technology consortium. This consortium constituted the power monitoring capabilities of Synaptec, a spin-out from Strathclyde University, alongside BPP Cable Solutions, specialists in subsea power cable engineering and management. The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult gave key support to the group in the initial phases of the solution’s emergence.
During the project’s early progression, a Smart grant worth close to £1m was awarded to the consortium by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation. This sum was instrumental in driving forwards the new product development, supporting the building of a prototype of the solution and aiding resource costs.
The collaboration led to the creation of a successful product, the ECG™ holistic cable monitoring system, to which ScottishPower Renewables and Equinor have provided industrial sponsorship. In 2022, Proserv’s ECG™ system secured its first contract to monitor inter-array cables on phases A and B of Dogger Bank Wind Farm – among the World’s largest. The technology will be utilised in 2023 on export and inter-array cables at Hywind Scotland floating wind farm – the first of its kind in the World.
The evolution of ECG™ has provided a further catalyst to the important and long-standing work undertaken by the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA), the collaborative research, development and deployment programme. Bringing industry partners together as a joint project, OWA constitutes several working groups exploring the key challenges faced in offshore wind, from cables to foundations, and seeks to find solutions via innovation and partnership.
ECG™’s development, pinpointing direct industry concerns and requirements around cable and termination faults and failures, and stemming from a collaborative technology consortium within the supply chain, very much reflects the ethos of OWA’s remit and aims to drive the innovative process.
As offshore wind accelerates in the coming decade, thousands of miles of cabling will be installed subsea around the UK’s coasts and beyond, across both fixed bottom and floating assets, making dynamic cable monitoring all-the-more important. Proserv's ECG™ system is well placed to address these challenges.
The product has come about from shared expertise gained in the wider energy sector and offshore renewables, as well as from power system monitoring, electronics, engineering, data analytics and software development. Its emergence speaks not only to the power of collaboration but the positive impact of support funding and industrial sponsorship.
Hywind Scotland Floating Wind Farm. © Equinor