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Creating an innovative application of space data for renewable energy development


4 Earth Intelligence (4EI) is a company with a proven track record of commercialising space-based data and deploying services into multiple industries. 4EI also has a strong background in maritime and marine applications.

Space applications could have a significant role to play in facilitating the rapid growth of ocean and marine technologies nationally and globally, helping to address climate change challenges. For the growing offshore renewable energy industry, space applications have the potential to reduce development and operational costs across the full project life cycle whilst helping to accelerate decision making timeframes. 

Space data in Offshore Environments

Space data can provide a wide range of information that can be used to reduce risk, improve safety and reduce costs in and around offshore assets. These benefits can be realised from the consenting and project inception, all the way through to decommissioning.

Satellite Earth Observation can provide data on a range of indicators, including:

  • Weather and sea state
  • Environmental impacts
  • Vessel activity
  • Thermal signatures
  • Sediment and turbidity

These data can be provided both at ‘near real time’ and into the past, to understand changes over different time scales.

The Opportunity

The overall aim is the creation of a new marine data management and analysis service that will initially be targeted at the rapidly developing floating offshore wind market opportunity in the Celtic Sea. Improving and expanding system functions and efficiency whilst identifying critical market opportunities will produce direct cost savings, carbon savings and risk reduction for developments in this sector, increasing market competitiveness and accelerating its penetration into the low carbon energy generation market.    

Making it happen

4EI engaged with the Marine-i project in order to gain support for the vital first stage of the project, which is to identify innovative Earth Observation data sources and align these with traditional and “bankable” consenting information. The specific objectives of this stage are to:

  1. Establish the state of the art in Offshore Remote sensing / Satellite Earth Observation applications.
  2. Identify barriers/risks to commercialisation of space data and create mitigation strategies.
  3. Clearly understand data flows and end user requirements in the Offshore Renewables domain.
  4. Test and validate the case for space data utilising ground control points and service usage with Offshore Renewables end users and stakeholders.
  5. Deliver a commercialisation plan for integrating space data and services into the Offshore Renewables sector.

The specialist expertise of the Marine-i partners will play a crucial role in delivering the above. ORE Catapult is mapping all marine energy data flows related to floating offshore wind through the full project lifecycle. Data scientist input, with specialised marine renewable energy knowledge will be included, alongside engineering support from ORE Catapult’s floating wind team. A grant has been secured to recruit two new specialist staff to support the project. University of Plymouth is providing ground control validation points through its HF radar station. University of Exeter and University of Plymouth have extensive experience and data for the met-ocean conditions in the Celtic Sea. Working with 4EI, they will apply these data to a regional validation of satellite-derived data sets that are available, incorporating any other relevant data sets where possible.

An exciting prospect

Richard Flemmings, Chief Technical Officer at 4EI says:

“We are really grateful to have the support of the expert team at Marine-i to help us progress this pioneering project. The development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea presents an exciting opportunity to commercialise the use of Earth Observation data in the offshore energy sector, with Cornwall taking a lead in demonstrating its application and value. Utilising space derived data also offers the opportunity to displace more traditional methods of environmental data collection that are heavily dependent of vessels or aircraft and their associated high levels of emissions.”

Prof Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i, says:  

“If we are to realise the full potential of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea, then this will require radical new approaches and cutting-edge solutions, which is exactly what 4EI are demonstrating. This project could have a crucial role to play in helping us to achieve the ambitious targets that we have set for floating offshore wind development over the next 10 years. It would also put Cornwall at the forefront of a completely new approach to satellite data which would have worldwide applications.”

[Image:NASA on Unsplash]