EMEC reports on results of subsea cable monitoring system tests

The European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland, has completed a 12-month project to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability of a multifunctional distributed sensor system for monitoring subsea cable infrastructure.

The project, called CLEMATIS (Cable Lifetime Enhancement via Monitoring using Advanced Thermal and Electrical Infrastructure Sensing), was funded by Innovate UK.

Technologies from the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics and Synaptec were integrated into the system. EMEC and SEA provided market intelligence, test equipment and facilities to enable the system to be tested in real-life conditions.

In June 2018, the system was demonstrated on a live subsea cable at EMEC’s Fall of Warness tidal energy test site.

The CLEMATIC system “is a holistic monitoring system that exploits the optical communications fibre in marine power cables. The system turns entire lengths of power cable into reconfigurable acoustic and temperature sensors. A quasi-distributed electrical system makes use of the same optical fibre to interrogate passive electrical current and voltage sensors distributed throughout the infrastructure.”

Real-time monitoring of cable status can avoid lost production through early indication of fault development and help avert major problems, said Dr. Henry Bookey, Fraunhofer UK Research, who led the project.

The studies also found there is potential for the acoustic system to detect much more than tidal flow or direct cable disturbance. EMEC says early results indicate the system may even be able to pick up external acoustic signals, for example from passing vessels and even interaction with marine mammals.

Regarding next steps, Bookey said, “We are seeking opportunities and potential partners to take this solution to market.”

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. The group supports businesses to develop and realize the potential of new ideas.

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