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RPS Floating LiDAR buoy

Wind data studies supporting Dutch offshore wind development

ON THIS PAGE

From data sharing to new innovations, the RPS metocean team has built on our previous Floating LiDAR buoy project in the Netherlands and is looking to the offshore wind industry’s future.

Following successful deployment of four LiDAR buoys earlier this year, RPS has recently been selected for a second project for the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, via the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). Three additional buoys will now be mobilised to measure offshore wind data (including energy potential) and metocean conditions at Doordewind Wind Farm Zone offshore Netherlands.

Our first project for RVO, which started in early 2022, has achieved on-time delivery and deployment, and safe operations with no incidents, with over 95% data return. Read on for a recap of some exciting innovations, but also some thoughts on how advanced metocean technology can support the offshore wind and energy markets further – for example, new functionality and cost reduction.

Putting down roots in our Netherlands home

A key development for the RPS team has been establishing and growing our European metocean capability with a local base in Den Helder – located in the new ‘Blue Port Centre’, a site being redeveloped to support the Netherlands’ renewable energy transition.

Here, we have built good relationships with a supportive maritime community that includes the Port Authority, Den Helder support services and the local community, receiving excellent support for our most recent bid. Our team has also grown to include six dedicated metocean specialists employed in the UK, who are all highly skilled and experienced in this field.

Floating LiDAR buoys
Hear more about Dutch offshore wind goals and the Blue Port Centre in this short video.

A technological innovation and new data-sharing

The RPS’ Floating LiDAR buoy is known for reliability and accuracy, which is down to a number of innovative features. These include real-time sensor monitoring, and redundancy features for both power and communications. In addition, the buoy runs off renewable energy and features a custom mooring design that avoids entanglement risk to wildlife while enabling accurate wave measurement.

For our recent Dutch projects, we have also brought in a new capability. As a recipient of public funding, our client was keen to make project data publicly available. Via our OceansMonitor Web platform, visitors can now see the location of the buoys, and view a wide range of metocean and wind data (including barometric pressure, wind speed, wave height, and current speed and direction). The data is returned in real-time with almost 100% coverage, providing a high degree of accuracy and detail for use in planning other offshore projects.

Another innovation is monitoring waves via satellite GPS GNSS sensors and accelerometers. A high precision GPS sensor is used to measure tides. The alternative to this is pressure sensor gauges placed on the seabed and anchored with the buoy mooring, but the data these collect can’t be checked until they are retrieved – usually at the end of the deployment. Instead, RPS has installed new technology, adding to the buoy’s real-time data delivery capabilities. RPS is one of the first to integrate this feature – with the added benefit of lower power consumption – for the Dutch deployments. For those with ESG in mind, this feature needs less instrumentation and no need for battery packs. This technology has the added advantage of a more sophisticated battery management where we can remotely monitor individual cells to ensure improved reliability. (RPS has moved away from traditional lead acid batteries to more sustainable lithium rechargeable batteries with our new LiDAR model).

Remote operation capabilities like this are becoming increasingly popular with developers who wish to improve safety and cut their carbon footprint by reducing the need for operatives and vessels in the field. Real-time data delivery speeds up and increases access to study area data, while our ability to remotely reconfigure buoy systems can also reduce the need for site visits and repair work.

Related reads:
Celebrating a Floating LiDAR data milestone

Managing project development risk through design

What else could we put on a Floating LiDAR buoy?

As we add to the buoy’s innovations and capabilities, we’ve been thinking about other ways they could support our clients.

Environmental data

For RVO, we are measuring water quality parameters and dissolved oxygen, for which there are several benefits. These data can tell us about an environmental impact parameter for which there is currently a lack of existing long-term datasets. As such we’ll be able to provide baseline data to assess environmental changes in future. There are also cost-saving benefits for our client, given the cost of measuring this type of data in isolation; instead, a single LiDAR buoy could gather data on multiple parameters (such as ocean acidity, another example without an existing dataset. It’s easy to integrate new sensors to the RPS platform and great to be working with a client like RVO, who are always receptive to measuring more ocean parameters).

Solar measurement

With RVO at the forefront as the renewables industry looks to the future – and grows exponentially – there is increasing interest in generating different renewable energy sources on the same offshore sites. One suggestion is floating solar farms at offshore wind farms. We were recently asked about the potential for solar measurement using a Floating LiDAR buoy and were able to answer that this is something we already do. Since RPS’ LiDAR buoys run off wind and solar power, we already measure this data to understand the buoys’ power usage. In developing a LiDAR buoy, we have looked to innovate from the start; this advanced technology continues to expand its potential as industry needs evolve and grow.

Anthony Gaffney - MetOcean Director