Major boost for robotics sector as GE Renewable Energy and ORE Catapult announce winners of offshore wind innovation competition

26 November 2020 - Published by Stig Marthinsen

Tethys Energy Services (Tethys) and Aerones have won a major competition to demonstrate a novel remote blade maintenance technique for offshore wind farms to one of the industry’s leading turbine manufacturers.

The two companies have won a blade robotics innovation competition launched by Periscope partner the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, GE Renewable Energy, and KTN, which called for robotics solutions focussed on automating maintenance activities and reducing unplanned offshore activity during the O&M phase of offshore wind turbine blades.

Tethys and Aerones will deliver a new offshore transportation and delivery platform to enable the Aerones onshore wind robotics technology to work offshore. The system will be able to deliver advanced remote inspection, maintenance and repair tasks on offshore wind turbine blades up to 5x faster than conventional rope access, drastically reducing turbine downtime. It is also more scalable and much safer to deploy, removing the need for personnel to work at height.

The next stage in development will see Tethys and Aerones demonstrate their prototype technology on ORE Catapult’s 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife. In addition, GE Renewable Energy will provide technical support and guidance on how the technology could be used on the company’s offshore projects.

The innovation competition, the first in a planned series of challenge competitions, was developed as part of GE and ORE Catapult’s ‘Stay Ashore’ research and development programme and was delivered through the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub’s Innovation Exchange (OWiX) in partnership with KTN. The adoption of robotics technology is seen as vital for the offshore wind sector, which, according to ORE Catapult research, could cut its inspection costs by almost 40% through integrating remote operations, robotics and automated systems into operations and maintenance activities.

ORE Catapult’s Research & Innovation Director Dr Stephen Wyatt added:

“Bringing through new innovations from the robotics sector to help improve the operations and performance of offshore wind farms, and to continue to drive down costs, is vital if the UK is to meet ambitious installation targets of 40 GW by 2030, and achieve net-zero by 2050. Supporting companies like Tethys and Aerones to further develop and enhance their technology, and showcase their products to the industry’s leading operators and turbine manufacturers, brings a huge boost to the UK offshore wind supply chain, helping to create jobs and generate millions of pounds for the UK economy.”