United Kingdom – The construction of a 5G Testbed that comprises Grimsby Port and the Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farm will result in the creation of the largest offshore wind “living lab” in the world off the coast of Grimsby.
With the massive expansion of offshore wind production necessary to meet climate targets, the £2.8 million project will hasten the development of a new generation of digital technology. It is being led by a consortium that includes the experience of Microsoft, Vilicom, JET Connectivity, XceCo, Associated British Ports (ABP), Accelleran, and Satellite Applications Catapult and is directed by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.
The 5G Testbed will give technology companies access to dependable, high-speed connectivity so they can test and showcase their products in actual use. It seeks to attract users from the worldwide offshore wind industry and launch a digital revolution in offshore wind O&M in the area.
Two 5G technology development and demonstration zones will be established, one near Grimsby Port and the other inside the Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farm, to create the Testbed over the current fibre network. Two 5G solar-powered buoys will provide an expanded 5G network beyond the range of the wind farm, in addition to the fifteen 5G radio transmitters that will be installed across five sites, including wind turbines and a radio mast. The project’s 5G solar-powered buoys are provided by JET Connectivity.
The demand for O&M, which is now pricy and risky, is rising as the offshore wind industry expands quickly. As the offshore wind industry grows, there is a strong effort to lower this cost by deploying robotics and autonomous technologies to support critical inspections, maintenance, and repair. O&M typically accounts for 25% of the overall lifetime cost of an offshore wind farm.
Yet, even though 5G is being installed in new wind farms, these are not yet ready for wider development and testing. Many new digital solutions depend on the high-fidelity wireless data connections that 5G enables. This project will provide the 5G infrastructure needed to make innovative technologies accessible and operationally integrated testbeds for global offshore wind deployment.
The Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Innovate UK Cyber Physical Infrastructure (CPI) grant, and industry match funds will all contribute £1 million to the project’s financing total.
Throughout the next ten years, it is expected that the UK’s offshore wind capacity will increase from 13 GW to 50 GW, and the rapid worldwide investment in offshore wind will open up enormous prospects for the UK wind industry. The Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence of ORE Catapult in Grimsby, the largest O&M port in the UK, will serve as the project’s base of operations.