Wind Farm Construction – how space technology holds the key to digitization

Wind Farm Construction – how space technology holds the key to digitization

Kevin Quillien, Co-founder and CTO of Krucial, writes about how space technology can digitize wind farm construction projects.


Across the world, governments are looking to increase wind power generation, including the USA, which has set a target of deploying 30GW of offshore wind by 2030, and the UK – which is aiming for 50GW of offshore wind to be deployed by the same year.


But in a recent report from the Energy Transitions Commission on streamlining planning and permitting for wind and solar, network availability was identified as one of the barriers slowing down deployment of technologies.


In offshore, remote and often harsh environments, wind farm construction (and other similar projects) face a plethora of complex challenges – not least connectivity, which impacts the ability to use the latest sensor data for environmental monitoring, predictive maintenance and asset condition management.


Maximizing the speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of construction in this sector can be difficult in such conditions without access to internet of things (IoT) for constant information about asset use, environmental conditions and worker safety. 


Without resilient communications, remote monitoring is impossible. Simply put, if an area has no cellular connectivity, then accessing IoT is difficult. Similarly, if cellular is knocked out due to extreme weather (a high risk on offshore and even some onshore wind farms), then it can’t be relied upon.  


The answer is space technology – namely, a solution that can tap into satellite connectivity. Around 90% of the planet has no access to cellular connectivity but by using satellites on orbit, there’s no longer a need to rely on local communications infrastructure. A private, drop-in network that can leverage satellite as well as cellular can digitize every smart device on a site, even miles offshore.  


Looking to space can allow energy companies and those working on construction to dive into precise, timely data on anything from wind speed to asset condition in total confidence that there will be no data blackspots. It’s made possible by using satellites to transmit the data if cellular is not available or drops out due to extreme weather. 


Digitizing the whole process is in the best interests of contractors, those commissioning a project and the people on site. Scoping and surveillance of a new site benefits from sensors to monitor the state of the ground, waves or weather and will inform contractors as to the best time to build – and all of this IoT deployment can reduce capex spend. 


Using space technology to access data from sensors on equipment also allows decision makers to understand asset condition and usage – even in remote offshore locations – and add or reduce tools as a result. 


Predictive maintenance, meanwhile, relies on continuous data to understand what and when a site could require new equipment, repairs and other actions to ensure it remains safe and functioning. Inability to connect to a connectivity source makes accessing the required data from afar challenging, if not impossible. 


These individual use cases make up a whole construction effort, and show that by using space technology, data can be accessed anywhere, anytime. It’s there – we just need to take advantage of those ‘cell phone towers in the sky’. 


A hybrid solution – one which can use cellular and satellite – is what is required for those looking to carry out remote, complex construction projects like wind farms. Ultimately, this will mean that the latest IoT technology can be fully utilized to maximize return on investment.  


Space technology can lead to the digitization of whole sites – no matter where they are – so rather than having to rely on limited data to make important decisions, operators can now pick and choose exactly what sensor information they want to retrieve to boost efficiency, speed and safety.


Read more about how Krucial can support the energy industry here.


If you want more information on how Krucial can enable the digitization of water basins, fill out the form below and one of the team will be in touch.

Recent Posts

Proud to be supported by