Thunderbolts and lightning become less frightening as ORE Catapult provides support for 600th SME

Published 18 September 2019

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult is celebrating after successfully providing technology innovation and business growth support to its 600th SME.

Bristol Industrial & Research Associates Ltd (Biral) has been working closely with ORE Catapult to further develop its BTD-350 thunderstorm and lightning detection system for offshore wind farms and is installing its technology for testing at the Catapult’s 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife.

Biral’s innovative technology provides operators with advanced, real-time information about thunderstorm activity within a 50 nautical mile radius of a wind farm. Thunderstorm and lightning detection has historically required large and expensive networks of radio receivers or the use of standalone sensors, which often proved to have an unacceptable false alarm rate.

With the ability to provide warnings of overhead lightning prior to the first lightning discharge and a false alarm rate that is almost zero, Biral’s unique sensor represents a significant step change in lightning detection technology. Early warning of potential lightning activity is vital to ensure the continued safe operations, and safety of personnel, at any wind farm.

With support from the Catapult, plans are now being developed to further demonstrate the technology in real-world conditions at Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Demonstration Centre, off the coast of Aberdeen, giving wind farm owner/operators increased confidence in the product and opening up a route to market for the technology.

Hugo Aniksztejn, International Sales Specialist with Biral, said: “Working with ORE Catapult has been invaluable in helping us better understand how the BTD-350 thunderstorm and lightning detection system can offer real-world safety benefits to the wind turbine sector. We hope that this partnership will give potential customers from this sector confidence in the performance of our innovative new product.”

The milestone comes as ORE Catapult publishes its Annual Report 2018/2019, highlighting some key successes from the last 12 months. Other milestones include a ground-breaking £9m industrial partnership to develop and test next-generation offshore wind technologies, an industry-leading programme of robotics projects, and an expansion of its global footprint by establishing a £2m research centre in China.

In the year 2018-2019, ORE Catapult supported more than 158 SMEs and 35 companies with product development, and enabled 120 industry collaborations, underlining its commitment to making offshore renewables the backbone of the UK’s future energy mix in order to tackle global climate change and decarbonise the UK’s energy needs.

ORE Catapult also played a major role in helping industry secure a landmark Offshore Wind Sector Deal with the UK Government, championing innovation and supply chain growth and, on behalf of industry, are now administering a 10-year, £100m supply chain growth support programme, the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership.

Andrew Jamieson, Chief Executive of ORE Catapult, said: “Supporting UK innovators is very much at the heart of the Catapult network ethos, so we’re delighting to be celebrating this important milestone as we work with our 600th SME. Small businesses will be the driving force behind the continued growth and success of the UK’s offshore renewable energy sector.

“However, to deliver a low-carbon future and meet the UK’s ‘net zero’ target by 2050 will require at least 75 GW of installed offshore wind capacity – that’s 10 times what we have installed today. The UK is going to need many more innovative solutions in order to deliver that volume of production.

“ORE Catapult will continue to be at the forefront of championing that innovation and supporting business growth and the development of next-generation technologies.”

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