Babcock adopts lidar after pilot

The floating Lidar unit

The floating Lidar unit

UK engineering outfit Babcock International is to build-in ZephIR 300 lidar systems to its first-generation floating meteorological data collection platform following pilot tests of the technology at RWE Innogy’s Gywnt Y Mor wind farm off Wales.

The Flidar (floating lidar) system, which is based on a moored shallow draft spar buoy, is expected to slash the cost of offshore data collection by more than 75%.

“Depending on the contract duration and specific site which determines the size of buoy and cost of moorings, a fully installed system would cost approximately £2.5m ($3.9m) based on a two-year data provision contract,” a ZephIR spokesman tells Recharge. “This compares to a capital cost of a fixed met mast anywhere from £5-£15m.”

The Babcock low-motion platform  has been shown to pitch and roll less than five degrees from vertical in waves over eight metres high, so that data collected offshore does not need post-processing or compensation, reducing the risk of miscalculation or human error.

“The use of a proven, highly-accurate lidar system such as the ZephIR 300 is key to increasing the accuracy of the [Flidar] results, in turn adding weight to our findings,” says Babcock project manager Liam Forbes.

“ZephIR has been proven onshore to provide measurements matching that of a calibrated meteorological mast, meaning that it is perfectly suited to use on our project. The use of a ZephIR Lidar on our spar buoy also seeks to reduce the total cost and time of developing a wind farm, in comparison to consenting and constructing a traditional meteorological mast, whilst still maintaining the highest safety requirements of the industry."

Two of the Flidar units, which are powered by PV panels and micro wind turbines, were installed last autumn near Gywnt Y Mor’s existing met-masts some 16km offshore.

The 576MW wind farm, being developed by RWE, Stadtwerke München and Siemens, is slated to be fully operational next year.

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