It’s time for the renewable energy sector to embrace the opportunities of data and digitalisation

Published:  07 June, 2019

Dr Conaill Soraghan, ORE Catapult

In the offshore renewable energy sector, data and digitalisation are presenting huge opportunities for owner/operators of global offshore wind, wave and tidal energy projects. From cost-saving to improving efficiency and predictive maintenance, the possibilities are endless when it comes to using technology to enhance operations.

However, there’s still a sense of nervousness in embracing the possibilities data and digitalisation is presenting to us, and many organisations don’t have the skills or systems in place to manage or process it effectively.

I head up the Data & Digitalisation team at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. The team is made up of computer science, data management, mechanical engineering and marine technology experts, and we’re passionate about improving the digital maturity of the renewable industry.

So, how can we help?

We work with data owners such as wind farm owners and operators to improve efficiency and reduce costs through correct data management, processing and analysis. We also support digital service providers such as SMEs, academics and researchers to develop and test new technologies and digital tools in the renewables sector. One of the biggest barriers innovators face is accessing real-life operational data to test and verify their solutions, so last year we launched our Platform for Operational Data (POD) service which allows organisations to access data sets from our fully-operational Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine on the Fife coast.

The reluctance to share data can also be a roadblock to innovation. In the gas and oil sectors data sharing is commonplace and it is vital to help identify operational improvements and cost reduction opportunities at both company and sector-wide levels.

Here at ORE Catapult we have developed two benchmarking platforms to encourage organisations to adopt this approach. The first is SPARTA (System Performance, Availability Reliability and Trend Analysis), a major collaboration project between the Catapult, The Crown Estate and offshore wind farm owner/operators which involves sharing anonymised offshore wind farm performance and maintenance data. Our second platform is the Wind Energy Benchmarking Service (WEBS), a secure, anonymised and independent web-based benchmarking service for onshore wind farm owner/operators around the world.

Immersing yourself in the world of data management and analysis can be a daunting prospect for many companies, but I urge everyone to explore the benefits it can provide. For companies who want to dip their toe in the water, our Data Pilots are a good starting point. The aim is to help data owners explore the true value of raw data by engaging with data scientists who can deploy modern digital approaches including machine learning, business intelligence tools and big data architectures.

In return for a minimum of six months’ operational data, my team will provide comprehensive performance analytics and concepts designed to solve your data challenges. A pilot investigation can normally be delivered within two months from when the data is received and is the first step in revealing how data owners can get value from their operational data.

There’s no denying that the digital transformation of the offshore renewable energy industry has well and truly arrived, and for businesses in the sector to remain competitive, they must fully embrace the opportunities being presented to them.

For more information about the work of the Data & Digitalisation team at ORE Catapult and how we can help you, visit:

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