How Ocean Energy Sets the Stage for Affordable Offshore Wind Energy

At the recent Oceanology International 2022 conference in London, one panel discussed the scale of the challenge presented by the surging demand for offshore wind projects in the coming years. 

No, not the challenge of installing tens of thousands of megawatts of offshore wind turbines across myriad sites and seas. The panel was focused on the immense amount of data-gathering at sea that must take place before construction can ever begin. To name just a few tasks, the work requires years of validated met-ocean data and bathymetric, geophysical, UXO, and geotechnical surveys. The list goes on. 

That work requires continuous power and data collection on the open sea, and the costs can add up quickly. Today, the only options are people-, capital- and carbon-intensive operations such as manned boats with diesel generators to deliver power to remote devices in the ocean. There’s a better way emerging in the form of unmanned surface vessels (USVs) equipped with sensors that can do the work, but a big problem has stood in the way: no power to continuously operate the USVs. 

Until now. C-Power, with its autonomous offshore power systems (AOPS), is providing the power and data needed to unlock the future of large-scale offshore wind site development. It is exactly the type of use case C-Power’s SeaRAY AOPS was designed to serve.  

Powering the vast and ever-growing array of USVs, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), sensors and monitoring equipment used in the ocean across all industries is a big opportunity for AOPS deployment. Where will the power come from to keep these systems running in the middle of the ocean 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year? How will they transmit the data they collect to the cloud for analysis? That’s the job of an AOPS, regardless of whether the device it’s powering is recording environmental conditions at an offshore wind site or looking for methane leaks at an offshore well. 

The variety of tasks offshore wind developers must complete in early-stage project development beg for autonomous, robotic and digital solutions. When doing work on a project 20 to 50 kilometers offshore, it is unnecessarily expensive and inefficient to send autonomous systems back to port or manually retrieve them to be charged or collect their data. To realize the full value of these sensors and monitoring equipment, there must be a charging network in the field to keep them running.  

The best solutions will be autonomous, robotic, digital AND permanent residents in the ocean.  

Today, offshore wind is slowed by operating in what we call Ocean Economy 1.0, which is people-, carbon- and capital-intensive. Offshore wind needs to unlock the advantages of Ocean Economy 2.0, which creates and harnesses the power of the internet of ocean things. 

C-Power’s systems are the missing piece of the puzzle, providing in-situ power, energy storage, and rea-time data and communications support that will enable the internet of ocean things and the future for offshore wind development.