iX Challenge: Smarter Bolt Tightening Operations For Offshore Wind Turbines

The challenge is to deliver a cost-effective alternative to traditional methods to checking and tightening bolts and a method to identify loss of tension or failure of a bolt or series of bolts. The method must be suitable for use at operational offshore wind farms, without the need for widespread bolt disturbance.

Funding Details
When

Registration Opens

17/06/2022

Registration Closes

02/08/2022

Award

Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch their innovation to SSER. Selected solution(s) may be trialled at SSER sites, with the possibility of further adoption if trials are successful.

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SSER is a leading developer and operator of renewable energy across the UK and Ireland, with a portfolio of around 4GW of onshore wind, offshore wind and hydro. SSER has the largest offshore wind development pipeline in the UK and Ireland at over 6GW and has an onshore wind pipeline across both markets in excess of 1GW.

During installation of an offshore wind turbine, upwards of 1000 bolts are used to secure its components in place. On operational wind turbines, approximately 10% of bolts at key bolted connections are checked annually to monitor for loss of tension. These checks require hydraulic tensioning/torque tools which are heavy and cumbersome to use, posing manual handling risks for personnel. Work locations also have access challenges including the need for marine transfers, working at height, and working in confined spaces.

Bolt failures are not automatically detected on offshore wind turbines at SSER sites. In the event of a bolt failure, all wind turbines affected by the bolt batch may have to be shut down until bolt checks can be completed or a root cause analysis is completed, this can also result in significant downtime.

Challenge

The challenge is to deliver a cost-effective alternative to traditional methods to checking and tightening bolts and a method to identify loss of tension or failure of a bolt or series of bolts. The method must be suitable for use at operational offshore wind farms, without the need for widespread bolt disturbance.

Proposals are welcome for cost-effective solutions in a variety of forms, including:

  • Online tension/torque monitoring systems which eliminate the need for physical bolt checks or enable better planned tightening campaigns.
  • Quicker and safer methods of checking bolt tension.
  • Methods to detect bolt failure or to detect bolt defects prior to failure.
  • Data-driven methods to target bolt checks most effectively, allowing for condition-based monitoring of bolts, rather than periodic monitoring
  • Solutions which can integrate with electronic data collection

SSER are primarily interested in solutions which can be applied to existing bolts, however solution requiring retrofitting of hardware may be considered if a clear case for cost and operational benefit can be made.

Entrants to this competition must be:

  • Established businesses, start-ups, SMEs, or individual entrepreneurs
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base

Partnerships and consortia of organisations are welcome to apply to this competition.

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