Author: Elizabeth Paull, Business Development Manager, Marine Resources
The New Year is often a time when commitments are made to try out new things and, at Sonardyne, we are no different; 2019 brings a fresh focus on some exciting new areas, including offshore wind, tidal energy and aquaculture.
The past 12 months saw a global focus on sustainability, with “single-use” being named ”word of the year” by Collins dictionary back in November. TV show Blue Planet 2 and Sir David Attenborough are widely recognised as being the catalysts for making international audiences question the use of plastics and environmental awareness continued throughout the year.
The oceans will continue to be a focus as we move into the next decade: the UN has hailed 2021-2030 as the “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development”. The Blue Economy, a term used by many, including the EU and World Bank, encompasses a holistic approach to the many uses of the oceans, including energy and mineral exploration, transport, food production and science. Here at Sonardyne, we are embracing the concept of the Blue Economy with the launch of a new focus on marine resources. Marine resources for us include:
Aquaculture is currently the fastest growing food production sector and this trajectory is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future. Remarkably, this method of farming now provides more fish for human consumption than wild fisheries. A key trend for this industry is diverless operations, specifically the growing use of underwater robots to assist operations. Small remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are being used for inspecting nets and mooring lines and collecting morts – fish that have perished. The efficiency of these operations can be improved significantly with the addition of an acoustic tracking system – we have recently proven the effectiveness of our Micro-Ranger 2 Ultra-Short BaseLine (USBL) in this environment.
Last year was a record breaking year for UK offshore wind, with more than 2GW coming online in eight new wind farms. Offshore wind is seen as a vital component of the current energy mix and is set to increase in importance over the coming years. Floating offshore wind, although not as mature as fixed foundation offshore wind farms, took great steps towards commercialisation in 2018, with the installation of another demonstrator in Scotland, Kincardine, and success in current pilot schemes. An increasing number of projects are being planned around the world.
Floating offshore wind presents an exciting challenge to the industry and much of the success so far has been down to the combination of renewable energy and oil and gas expertise. We bring our decades of experience in shallow and deep water offshore operations to the world of renewables, providing installation support and vital subsea asset integrity monitoring systems for critical elements such as mooring lines.
In the more traditional fixed foundation wind farms, the efficiency and accuracy of unexploded ordnance (UXO) surveys can be increased by using our low-power and compact but ultra-high resolution multi-aperture sonar, Solstice, and our market leading hybrid navigation system – SPRINT-Nav. Throughout the life of the wind farm, ROVs and divers can be tracked in shallow water and at high elevation using our Mini-Ranger 2 USBL system.
The growth of offshore wind has revitalised another industry – subsea cable operations. With the installation of new wind farms comes the need for extensive grids and networks of power cables. To service this growing industry, new high-specification multi-purpose vessels are being built. Cable lay operations can be facilitated by the use of reliable USBL systems for ROV and trenching vehicle positioning, and by using programmable and acoustic releases for floats. Alongside power cable installation, fibre optic cable lay operations have also been growing as the world’s demand for digital information transfer between continents grows.
Over the next few months, we will be sharing news and exciting stories about marine resources and the blue economy, including a very chilly trip to a Norwegian fish farm to trial our latest USBL system – Micro-Ranger 2. Watch this space!