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Empowering Connective Innovation: Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence

Published 13 March 2024

Written by ORE Catapult’s Project Engineer, Joseph Hewitt.

The Port of Grimsby stands as a beacon of progress in clean energy and the maritime innovations which support it. Supporting the transformation of the port to enable offshore wind deployment, we at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult have developed the integration of shore power and 5G testbed facilities, operated from our Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence. In this blog, we will explore how these two advancements are converging to redefine efficiency, connectivity, and environmental responsibility in the offshore wind and maritime industries.

1. Shore power: A green revolution for ports

Shore power is a game-changer in reducing the environmental footprint of vessels. At this time of early adopters, there is a chicken and egg problem with introducing a new fuel; industry will struggle to deliver new vessels without appropriate infrastructure and an infrastructure business case is challenging to make without vessels. The new ORE Catapult shore power unit, partly funded by the UK Government and to be operational in 2024, will be a 350kW system capable of supporting CTVs. It is hoped this demonstration will help to resolve commercial barriers and enable technological demonstrations of novel vessels, in an operational environment. We aim for this unit to demonstrate:

  • Operational integration; electric configurations are able to compete with hydrocarbon alternatives in delivering the challenging operational requirements of an offshore wind vessel.
  • Environmental Impact; improving port air quality, greenhouse gas reduction, and compliance with environmental regulations.
  • The need for standards in on and offshore charging – so multiple partners can access shared infrastructure.
  • Route to commercial viability; currently, Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) cost is high for these units, but Operational Expenditure (OPEX) of these vessels is expected to be reduced. As volumes increase, shore power is expected to become economically viable and will financially compete with traditional fuelling options, such as diesel.

2. The 5G testbed advantage: Navigating the future of connectivity

As the world races towards a hyper-connected future, the integration of 5G technology at the Port of Grimsby is a strategic demonstration of the benefits of improved communication, data transfer, and operational efficiency within the port. The introduction of the 5G private network is expected to operate with latency speeds of 8-12ms with a throughput rate of 1.3Gbps downlink and 400Mbps uplink. The network covers the Port of Grimsby, and the Lynn and Inner Dowsing Windfarm, allowing users to trial technologies both on and offshore.

  • Data Speed and Low Latency: Explore how the high-speed, low-latency capabilities of 5G enhance real-time communication and data transfer, optimising port operations and vessel management.
  • IoT Integration: Discuss the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, providing insights into equipment health, logistics, and overall port performance.

Synergy at the Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence

At the heart of these innovations is the Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence (OMCE), serving as the nerve centre for managing both shore power and 5G testbed facilities. This integrated approach amplifies the benefits and ensures a streamlined, cohesive operation.

  • Centralised Control: Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult utilises a centralised control centre, namely the Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence, to monitor and manage both shore power and 5G infrastructure, optimising resource allocation and troubleshooting.
  • Collaborative Efforts: Projects at the OMCE provide opportunities for collaboration and mutual success, between energy, regulation, and technology teams, based locally in Europe’s largest offshore wind port. This ecosystem will help propel the port into a sustainable future.

As the Port of Grimsby emerges as a pioneer in maritime innovation, the combination of shore power and 5G testbed facilities at the Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence underpins a drive towards sustainability and technological advancement. This integration not only propels the port into the future but also sets a standard for the global maritime industry to follow suit, ultimately aiming towards a greener and more connected industry.