SLPE Awarded Funding for Innovative New Diagnostic Monitoring Tool

21 July 2022

Renewable energy consultancy SLPE is pleased to announce a new research and development project in collaboration with University of Nottingham and Clockwork Engineering, funded by Innovate UK.

Offshore Wind Foundation Diagnostic Monitoring System (OfDiMoS) is a new digital twin software being developed by the project team to provide condition monitoring of offshore wind turbines (OWTs).

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical structure, in this case an engineering simulation model continuously maintained to accurately reflect its physical counterpart throughout its life. The digital twin will be updated using real-time data gathered from sensors installed on the OWT support structures.

OfDiMoS will analyse this data to identify any damage and real-time changes to the behaviour of the OWT installations, using engineering simulations augmented by machine learning to assist in business-critical decision-making. This will also incorporate advanced soil-structure interaction solvers developed using SLPE’s industry expertise.

“The funding we have received from Innovate UK will allow us to make exciting advancements in understanding the effects of the natural environment on offshore wind infrastructure”, said Joe Hilton, Director of SLPE.

“With rapid growth in the offshore wind sector comes challenges in designing fixed offshore wind foundations capable of dealing with larger turbines, deeper waters and more challenging ground conditions.

"By making more accurate predictions of a structure’s responses to extreme loading as well as fatigue damage accumulated due to cyclic loading, digital twins enable conservative estimates to be replaced by real-time, data-based assessments with the potential to extend a structure’s service life. This can add significant value to the client in many ways, from enabling early damage intervention to increasing the asset’s productivity.”

“Newer, larger and more innovative structures may behave differently to their historic counterparts, so understanding both the short- and long-term effects of weather conditions like harsh wind and waves on these offshore infrastructure is critical for keeping renewables projects cost-efficient in the long run,” said Saleh Jalbi, Wind Turbine Foundations Engineer and OfDiMoS Project Lead at SLPE.

The utility of digital twins when applied to OWT asset management will include:

  • Near-instantneous condition assessments
  • Rapid maintenance interventions
  • Identifying slower damage accumulation, such as corrosion
  • Informed minimum risk decision-making surrounding service life extension

“Innovative tools like OfDiMoS will have the capability to increase the reliability of OWTs, with direct financial benefits for end users in the UK”, Saleh added. “By better understanding environmental conditions, we can optimise future OWT foundation designs, thus lowering the cost of energy production and reducing carbon emissions”.

OfDiMoS is a collaboration between SLPE, University of Nottingham’s Nottingham Centre for Geomechanics (NCG) and Clockwork Engineering that will run for 18 months, from April 2022 to September 2023.

Dr Saleh Jalbi is the Project Lead for SLPE, and Dr Luke J. Prendergast is the Academic Lead PI for University of Nottingham.