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Technology innovation is key to driving newly subsidised offshore wind market

If the UK Government's decision to grant increased subsidies to the offshore wind market is to be successful any investment into the industry must build on the knowledge and data gained from existing wind farm estates, to drive R&D and technology innovation, according to Andy Poon, CEO at Romax Technology, who supply monitoring and maintenance solutions to a third of the UK's offshore wind farm estate.

Recently, the Government announced plans to continue its support to boost the UK offshore wind market with a desire to attract multi-billion pound investments and maintain its lead as one of the world's biggest offshore wind markets, through a series of subsidies designed to improve financial support to the sector.

Poon states that as the spotlight falls on the offshore wind market it is vital that any level of investment must build on the knowledge and data collated across wind farm estates to improve technology and efficiency within the market:

"The Government's decision to increase subsidies for the offshore wind farm market is welcoming news and continues to show the backing that the sector needs. In light of this it is critical that any future investment addresses the existing challenges still being seen across the industry and help drive efficiency and innovation.

"If you look at the market, one of the biggest concerns facing offshore wind turbine owners exists around operations and maintenance (O&M) of a turbine. Currently 75 per cent of expenditure for offshore wind farms can be attributed to a site's O&M. This put's huge pressure on managers to collect and analyse performance data to reduce costs and improve ROI. By having the right data, managers can implement strategies that improve innovation and ultimately minimise the risk of wind turbine failure and downtime."

Poon continues: "Installing monitoring technologies is a widely known way to collect the required information. Data can be unlocked from conditioning monitoring systems and software applications providing managers with new data analytics, which in addition to cost savings, also aid in monitoring for faults across the drivetrain reducing the risk of downtime.

"In addition, investment in maintenance strategies helps the O&M managers to identify and predict future component failures to ensure maintenance can be carried before a failure occurs. In order for this to be carried out effectively and to assess failures 6-12 months down the line vibration condition monitoring, oil monitoring, remaining useful life models, inspection & maintenance data and measure load data need to be obtained."

Poon concludes: "This is something we've seen a lot across our business. Technology has always played a prominent role in our industry and by having access to clear and concise data, O&M managers are able to address the challenges of the market. Data sources can be unlocked providing effective measures to reduce wind turbine failure. This is something Romax has experienced from monitoring some of the oldest offshore wind farms in the world. Independent monitoring, such as the services we offer, allows for this to happen and provides O&M managers with not only the necessary tools to install preventative maintenance but also maximises wind energy yields and power production through performance and reliability - this is something we've always strived for across our business."