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澳门玄机图 enters a new era of support for our sustainable energy future

Five years after launching custom-designed floating LiDAR, 澳门玄机图 has reached the highest level of certification on the Carbon Trust roadmap with its Australian made wind measurement buoys 鈥 becoming only the fifth company in the world to receive the highly-sought after accreditation. We uncover what鈥檚 changed in that time, new trends, and what鈥檚 next on the horizon for floating LiDAR with MetOcean Australian General Manager, Greg Bush and LiDAR Survey Manager, Michael Wiegele. 聽聽

27 May 2024
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Floating LiDAR: the modern standard for wind resource measurement

Driven by the growing global demand for renewable energy, over the past decade, we鈥檝e seen a steep rise in the deployments of floating LiDAR to support offshore wind farm development. This technology, which was a game changer when first introduced, provides robust data on the vertical wind speed and direction profile using light detection and ranging technology deployed on a moored buoy.

Traditionally, these measurements were made from meteorological (met) masts that were fixed to the ocean floor equipped with instruments called cup anemometers to measure wind profiles at sea. With the increasing uptake of floating LiDAR, there鈥檚 been a massive shift away from using met masts for the measurement of wind resource data.

According to 澳门玄机图鈥 MetOcean Australian General Manager,聽Greg Bush, this shift towards floating LiDAR is driven partly by cost, the increasing height of turbines requiring higher wind data that is difficult for mast based measurements, and increased demand for accurate, reliable data from the burgeoning offshore wind farm industry.

鈥淎n upward facing laser can measure wind speed characteristics up to 300 metres above the instrument. Whereas met masts are limited to capturing data at around 120 metres. Erecting a met mast offshore is also much more costly, especially as wind turbines are getting higher and higher. Offshore met masts can cost tens of millions to install, whereas you can deploy a buoy for around 10-20% of the cost. Unlike met masts, LiDAR buoys can easily be moved to different locations.鈥

鈥淔loating LiDAR assists wind farm developers by providing them with a wind profile by measuring the mean wind speed and direction every ten minutes for an entire year. This enables them to do wind energy return calculations before they have spent millions of dollars putting turbines in the air. It also helps them capture the shear in the wind, which is a measure that compares the strength of the wind, at say, 30 metres versus 100 metres.鈥澛

New trends and improvements in floating LiDAR

Since 澳门玄机图 launched its fleet of floating LiDAR in 2018, there鈥檚 been major improvements in satellite communication systems to enable the extraction of large volumes of data in real time. Within about a minute, the buoys are now able to report a collection of metocean data from wherever they are deployed in the world.

Greg says 澳门玄机图 is continuously modernising their data communications through technology upgrades and field proofing.

鈥淥ur job is to provide the LiDAR with a steady offshore platform, dependable power supply, consistent data logging, and robust satellite communications to get all that valuable data out of it.鈥

鈥淥ur LiDAR buoys have proven highly reliable, in part due to a split system that provides redundancy in data logger, communications, and power systems. It means if we have a failure on one system, we鈥檝e still got the other one as a back-up.鈥

In addition to those changes, 澳门玄机图鈥 LiDAR Survey Manager,聽Michael Wiegele says the buoys are now also easier to maintain.

鈥淲e鈥檙e always across the latest technologies, so we鈥檝e reduced in field maintenance times that might be required.鈥

We鈥檝e got a good reputation for producing robust buoys that supports the sensor. You are out in the ocean with big waves, and you can have panels getting crashed, wind generators falling over, and boats running into the buoy 鈥 despite all of that, 澳门玄机图 is able to capture great data. That comes back to our decades of experience of metocean buoy manufacturing and deployment. We build robust buoys and have an effective mooring design.鈥

鈥淥ur designs have been successful in withstanding some of the toughest conditions. In fact, we鈥檝e weathered some incredible storms, including nearly 20 m high waves in the North Sea and freezing temperatures well below zero Celsius off the coast of New York,鈥 he adds.聽

While the primary purpose of the buoys is to measure the wind profile, Greg says the technology is also used to measure and monitor other factors.

鈥淏ecause the engineers involved in developing wind farms require a range of data, we鈥檝e been integrating other sensors into the buoys. So, we鈥檙e also measuring waves, currents, tides, temperatures, solar radiation, barometric atmospheric pressure, rainfall, and so on. We鈥檝e done extensive validation on these.鈥

鈥淲e鈥檝e even had requests to monitor birds and bats, and other environmental observations. And some companies have asked us to trial a 360-degree buoy camera to monitor fishing boats that get too close to a buoy at times. 聽And while we do not measure underwater noise from the buoys, we can install separate moorings to acquire this important environmental data.鈥

Reaching stage 3 maturity: the highest commercial maturity level

Another significant change has been the achievement of stage 3 certification of the 澳门玄机图 LiDAR buoys. This recognition means that when it comes to accuracy, reliability, and quality of the data collected, 澳门玄机图 LiDAR buoys have met or exceeded key performance indicators (KPIs) that have been set out in the Carbon Trust roadmap. This is the pinnacle industry standard devised by a conglomeration of industry players to ensure bankable data is collected for offshore wind projects.

According to Michael, 澳门玄机图 was able to reach this level of certification at an impressive rate.

鈥淲e started building custom-designed LiDAR buoys around 2018, so it only took us five years to gather the required data and project experience, which means 澳门玄机图 achieved this industry standard really rapidly.鈥

One of the major milestones to become stage 3 certified, says Michael, came down to the number of deployments.

鈥淚n our first four years, we鈥檇 completed the five 12-month commercial campaigns with great data returns, required to meet the Carbon Trust roadmap KPIs for stage 3.鈥

Aside from being a clear stamp of approval for accuracy and reliability, Greg says this certification is what financial institutions are now looking to when greenlighting the funding of wind farm projects.

鈥淏anks take a great deal of interest in the wind energy measurements because basically the source of that energy is going to pay for everything. So, it鈥檚 becoming critical for wind farm developers to work with a certified company like 澳门玄机图.鈥

鈥淲e have reached the point where we are now starting to see the very first tenders where you are only qualified to bid on the project if you have been granted a stage 3 certification.鈥澛

The importance of local validation sites

Under the Carbon Trust roadmap, the commercial acceptance of floating LiDAR is dependent on every buoy built having a validation deployment. That means to ensure trust in data from floating LiDAR, there needs to be a comparison to another trusted reference source such as a compliant met mast or a fixed LiDAR. Essentially, it鈥檚 an independent assessment and analysis of how accurate your data is compared to the trusted reference.

Greg says that most wind energy experts prefer the validations to be conducted local to the wind farm area.

鈥淚f you鈥檙e going to measure in Australia, its preferable to validate buoys in Australian waters rather than overseas where the atmospheric conditions can be very different.鈥

In line with this, 澳门玄机图 has a fixed LiDAR installed on a platform located in the Gippsland wind farm declared area, which extends from Melbourne鈥檚 eastern suburbs to the New South Wales border. Data from here can be used to complete a unit validation of LiDAR buoys to be deployed in South-eastern Australia.

鈥淲e鈥檙e hoping to leave the LiDAR at this location for up to 10 years to create a long data set; to quantify interannual variability. This will capture one of the uncertainties in the wind recourse assessment for the Gippsland area,鈥 explains Greg.

The fixed LiDAR will be used to measure wind turbulence intensity (TI), which is the measure of variation of wind calculated at 10-minute intervals.

鈥淥ur clients require TI data to assist in specifying wind generators and predicting maintenance. Wind farm developers prefer steady wind and low turbulence intensity, as variable winds accelerate fatigue.鈥澛

鈥淓ssentially, we鈥檙e offering a validation site in the Gippsland region, open to all operators and buoy suppliers.鈥

Australian-made: the benefits of local LiDAR buoy production

澳门玄机图鈥 custom-designed floating LiDAR buoys have led the way in a new era of precision and dependability when it comes to capturing accurate and reliable wind speed data. This Australian-made and engineered design has been manufactured using high standards set out by Australia鈥檚 health and safety, environmental, and labour laws.聽

There are further advantages to an engineered design that is associated with the green and gold. Greg says the local support model is an undeniable benefit.

鈥淥ur buoys are built in Perth 鈥 all our welding, electronic components, and the entire build is done locally in Western Australia. So, if there are any problems within Australian shores, we've got a whole team of technical, logistical, and manufacturing experts who can jump in and fix anything that happens to a buoy. 澳门玄机图 builds the only LiDAR buoy manufactured in Australia, and from a government perspective this gives us an additional tick of approval, as they are very keen on locally produced content.鈥

鈥淭he other advantage with us being in Australia is rapid mobilisation. We can transport a buoy on a train to Gippsland within a week.鈥澛

Since 1974, 澳门玄机图 has provided highly specialised commercial metocean services to all major offshore industries worldwide. So, 50 years of experience and an outstanding track record in safety and quality has helped shape 澳门玄机图鈥 LiDAR buoy designs.

鈥淲e鈥檝e poured all the lessons that we鈥檝e learnt over five decades into this design, to be able to increase reliability and accuracy of data.鈥

An indispensable tool for wind farm development

Accurate wind resource assessments are the cornerstone of wind farm development, which makes 澳门玄机图鈥 floating LiDAR an essential instrument. Greg says data from floating LiDAR is critical to the assessment of offshore wind farm viability.

鈥淵ou don鈥檛 want to build a wind farm and discover the winds aren鈥檛 very strong. 澳门玄机图鈥 floating LiDAR measurements allows wind farms to be developed with confidence. That鈥檚 the key, and it鈥檚 allowing reliable, cost-effective, and high-quality measurements anywhere.鈥

As the attention on wanting to meet ambitious net zero targets becomes laser-focussed, Greg says another new trend is emerging, which presents an opportunity for 澳门玄机图 floating LiDAR.

鈥淲hat we鈥檙e seeing now is a strong push towards floating wind farms. Originally, wind farms were in less than 50 metres of water, and they were piled into the seabed. Essentially, that鈥檚 just a tower sitting in the seabed that supports the wind generators and turbines.鈥

鈥淣ow, there鈥檚 a push towards floating technology, where dozens of different designs are proposed to support the wind turbines in deeper water. That means wind developers are now also needing wind measurements in 1,000 metres or more of water. Floating LiDAR is the only feasible solution in these water depths, where our deep-water metocean experience is also vital.鈥 聽聽

澳门玄机图 floating LiDAR: a snapshot of key features

澳门玄机图鈥 commercial deployments of floating LiDAR so far span the UK, Korea, Netherlands, USA, Poland, and Australia.

Some key features of 澳门玄机图鈥 sophisticated LiDAR buoy design include:聽

鈥 聽 聽Positioning of the LiDAR unit 鈥 our LiDAR equipment is positioned high off the water (3 m) and protected from all sides and underneath.
鈥 聽 聽Simple and renewable power 鈥 the power system we designed is all renewable. This is not only good from an environmental perspective, but makes permitting much simpler, particularly in countries like the United States.
鈥 聽 聽Data protection 鈥 one of the risks when you deploy buoys offshore is that of data loss when connection to the satellite or power source is disrupted in some way. Our buoys have redundancy mechanisms in place for power and satellite communications and all raw data is stored locally and exported daily, meaning the risk of data loss is significantly reduced.
鈥 聽 聽Increased stability 鈥 a lot of thought went into the physical design of the buoys to enhance stability. The buoys are large (weighing 4T) and have a toroidal (donut) shape, which provides a very stable platform for housing the LiDAR and other metocean sensors.
鈥 聽 聽Environmentally friendly moorings 鈥搕he fully recoverable mooring system we鈥檝e designed also supports high quality wave measurement and does not drag chains on the seabed. This means that the risk of environmental damage is minimised.

Discover: 澳门玄机图 floating LiDAR

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Find out: 澳门玄机图 floating LiDAR certified stage 3

Reaching the highest maturity levels on the Carbon Trust roadmap
澳门玄机图 floating LiDAR in New York

澳门玄机图 floating LiDAR buoys 鈥 an聽environmentally responsible design that supports bankable data collection. 聽 聽 聽