The Autonomous Vehicle for the Inspection of offshore wind farm Subsea INfrastructure (AVISIoN) project is a partnership between ORE Catapult, Darlington-based Modus Seabed Intervention and Osbit Ltd, to design a novel docking station for an Automated Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to enable it to remain at offshore wind farm sites without a support vessel. The docking station will enable vehicle re-charging, as well as the upload of acquired data and download of mission commands.
The use of AUVs to survey and inspect offshore wind farm subsea infrastructure is a relatively new cost-efficiency measure in this sector. Replacing support vessels with the AUV docking station could further reduce expenditure. The scheme will also significantly reduce the need for staff to work in hazardous marine environments.
AVISIoN has received funding from Innovate UK, which will enable further development, testing and demonstrations of Modus’ existing Hybrid AUV capability, and docking station.
Testing will take place at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth. The first phase will use saltwater testing docks and Catapult’s National Anemometry Hub. Offshore wind farm developers innogy, EDF Energy and E.ON are also supporting the project, with innogy agreeing to carry commercial trials at the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm.
The use of AUVs could shave £1.1billion from the cost of operating Europe’s offshore wind farm fleet in what would be a world-first for the sector.
 Offshore wind farm operators who utilise AUVs can reduce their LCOE by 0.8%. Applying this cost saving for a 400MW representative offshore wind farm (ref, IEA methodology), a 0.8% LCOE reduction will yield cost savings of £1.6m per annum. This equates to an estimated £1.1billion saving across the current 11GW offshore wind farm fleet over the next 25 years.