Published 29 April 2020

Developing new technologies subsea cable inspection

ORE Catapult joined forces with Soil Machine Dynamics Limited (SMD) and Magnomatics to accelerate a number of its research areas relating to offshore subsea power cable installation and inspection process. The three innovators formed the Innovate UK-funded Anemoi project in an effort to lower costs through the reduction of time in both operational efficiency and by avoiding operational downtime during the peak tidal cycles around offshore wind farms.

The goal of Anemoi was to develop new technologies for Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) in extreme offshore environments, in addition to developing and testing novel subsea cable sensing technologies to accelerate deployment of offshore wind farm electrical infrastructures.

The research in this project assessed the performance of the novel cable detection technology against the current state-of-the-art counterparts, with the aim of installing this technology on an eROV to accelerate cable de-burial during a subsea cable repair process by more rapid cable detection, and at deeper burial depths.

Further to this, to determine future market demand projections, current offshore wind subsea cable failure rates were analysed concluding that subsea cable failure rate is approximately 0.003 failure/km/year. This coupled with the rapid increase of expected installed subsea cable to 53,000km by 2027 results in a great demand for innovations in cable detection technology.

Finally, a cost benefit analysis was completed to compare current methods with the cost of the cable repair processes with this new cable detection technology, concluding that for each day a subsea cable repair process can be reduced by, it results in a 1% saving of the average cable repair cost of £12.5 million [1].

ORE Catapult dynamic subsea cable

The Anemoi project will have a wider impact outside of the project team by accelerating the cost reduction of the offshore wind sector. Currently cable installation and cable failure accounts for a significant proportion of the overall windfarm cost and impacts on the LCoE reduction.

This project will also support the SMD client base to further develop new solutions to improve the installation times, driving down costs and ensuring further investment into the sector by major utilities in a more cost effective technology. SMD will also grow a new product line that will benefit their broader supply chain. This will vastly improve the competitiveness of their products and support the growth of the supporting supply chain in the North of England creating potentially in excess of 100 new jobs longer term.

SMD is developing UK supplier, Magnomatics, within this project for part of SMD’s multi-million pound turnover business. The success of SMD is based on a predominately UK-based supply chain, successful penetration of our ROV business into the offshore wind sector will generate significant income for SMD.

ORE Catapult’s Role

ORE Catapult’s role was to assess the performance of a novel cable detection technology, with the aim of installing this technology on new eROV’s. ORE Catapult completed work comparing the new technology capabilities to current methods and determined the future market demand for such a technology by evaluating the current rate of cable failure of UK offshore wind farms. A cost benefit analysis of this technology was completed by comparing the time reduction, and thus savings, that could be achieved in cable de-burial processes when using the new proposed technology.
ORE Catapult’s testing capabilities were used to support the development of this technology, by deploying and the burial of a subsea cable within its docks at differing burial depths. This allowed for physical testing and analysis of the new cable detection technologies performance

[1] Offshore Wind Programme Board. Export Cable Reliability Description of Concerns. Technical report, July 2017             

Contact Our Team