Zupt just announced winning its first major renewables contract for a unique offshore wind farm development offshore the northwest coast of France. Zupt will develop, source, integrate, and operate a complex sensor suite on a large subsea template to tackle the challenges of this development and support the installation of fixed wind turbine monopiles in shallow subsea terrains.
Due to the difficult geophysical terrain, the process begins with drilling 10-meter-wide sockets into the seabed, which are then filled with sand to establish a consistent foundation prior to the monopile installation. A custom 20-meter-tall subsea template is then positioned directly atop the sand-filled sockets in absolute space, serving as the base through which the monopiles will be inserted.
Zupt will integrate a complex sensor suite onto the subsea template to monitor and ensure precise positioning and attitude of the large-diameter monopiles during installation. The template used will be relocated and utilized for every monopile installation, with the sensors permanently fixed. This sensor suite contains over 40 advanced sensors, including cameras, lights, acoustic and mechanical proximity sensors, GNSS, multiplexors, and inertial measurement units, all connected to the surface via a 10GB network architecture. These sensors will be strategically placed across the template, and accompanying software will be supplied to facilitate real-time structure monitoring and precise control.
Zupt's development of proprietary sensors placed across the template makes this project unique and cutting-edge. While incorporating some off-the-shelf components, the project primarily features custom-designed sensors such as cameras, lights, mechanical proximity sensors, and a specialized MUX system. This proprietary sensor technology adds value by providing a more cost-effective and efficient solution. For example, the specialized MUX systems, strategically designed to optimize power distribution and communication, offer a practical alternative while reducing overall project expenses.
Zupt's involvement in this project goes beyond the integration of complex sensors; we are actively engaged throughout the project lifecycle, from the initial engineering phases, installation onto the template, and monitoring offshore operations firsthand. With a dedicated team present offshore and an operational strategy spanning around 200+ days, Zupt ensures meticulous attention to detail and operational efficiency.
Zupt's thorough approach involves comprehensive testing phases - factory acceptance tests (FAT) and systems acceptance tests (SAT) to ensure reliability and functionality at every stage before deployment. These tests conducted both at Zupt's facility in Houston and the client fabrication yard, where the template is assembled, ensure the technology's readiness on the template before the offshore operations begin.
The significance of this project isn't solely the magnitude of installing numerous offshore wind turbines but in Zupt's ability to solve complex problems through innovative approaches and technical expertise. By successfully navigating challenging subsea terrains with precision and reliability, Zupt not only contributes to expanding renewable energy but also advances wind farm installation methods. While the project's commencement is scheduled for later in 2024, the detailed planning and preparation highlight the complexity involved in such offshore projects. With Zupt's leading expertise and experience, this project sets a benchmark for efficient, precise, and innovative offshore wind farm installations.
Stay tuned for more updates from Zupt as the offshore wind farm development continues to unfold.