Geoff Briggs, EDS Technical Manager, Discusses Cable Sentry
The EDS Cable Sentry trials are in full flow, with us just about to reach the significant milestone of completing the first year of the project. But where did it all begin? We speak to Geoff Briggs, Technical Manager, to learn more about how the project started.
So where did it all begin?
Back in 2015 I was reviewing Cable Monitoring Systems and messaged an old contact to enquire about purchasing a Distributed temperature sensing (DTS) system. He had moved to a new company, OptaSense and was very enthusiastic about Distributed Acoustic Sensing, an optical fibres technology that could to detect minute mechanical effects such as vibration, pressure and impact. DAS had been used successfully in a number of other industries, for example oil and gas pipeline monitoring (for damage, leaks, and impacts) and within security. However it had never been used in the offshore wind industry.
So what happened next?
In 2015 a cable fault at Robin Rigg Wind Farm presented an opportunity for us to test out the DAS system and see if it could be used to locate cable faults.
EDS were able to pinpoint the fault location within hours of arriving on site and far quicker than using traditional techniques. Due to its pinpointing capabilities, the kit was able to verify that the fault was located onshore, eliminating valuable time and expense searching offshore. The client was delighted, and we saw the value in exploring the concept further.
We were ready to take the product to the next level as innovation is very much at the heart of what we do as a company. We are always looking for ways to improve the offshore wind industry and guarantee its long term future by reducing the levelized cost of energy (LCOE). At the same time cables were becoming a hot topic, with an increasing number of failures and some startling statistics such as the fact that Cable faults accounted for 77% of total global costs of offshore wind farm losses, and that cable faults were up by a whopping 130% on original Cigre estimates. With the DAS we saw a real opportunity to disrupt the way that cables were monitored within the marketplace and change the industry for the better.
Around the same time, a discussion re funding brought the Horizon 2020 programme to our attention. The SME Instrument programme was aimed at innovative companies with ambitions to scale up. The SME instrument webpage states “Competition is tough - only the most convincing and excellent proposals get funded after a thorough evaluation by multinational panels of technology, business and finance experts.” We decided that we were up for the challenge and were thrilled when we were awarded 50,000 euros to carry out a feasibility study.
From concept to market - Phase 2 funding application
Having completed the feasibility study we were confident that we were on to something, and we set about applying for phase 2 funding that would allow us to carry out further trials. During the phase 1 we had received lots of positive feedback from developers, operators, insurers and other industry stakeholders. They supported us with our application and we submitted under the quarter 1 call for proposals.
After a nervous wait we were thrilled to bits to find out that we had received over 1.3 million euros of funding to carry out large scale trials to test the product further. We were even prouder when we discovered that we were only 1 of 3 UK companies to be successful, and also that of the 1574 applications, only 71 had received funding.
Next steps include the final set of trials and also refining our product offering and associated services. We are also showcasing the product at every opportunity we get, including Wind Energy Hamburg, a significant event in the renewables calendar taking place in September 2018.