Manage Risks: How Quick Connection Systems Can Enable Controlled at Sea Testing.
Marine operations, such as the installation and retrieval of wave, tidal and floating wind technologies are generally limited to calm weather. The location of marine energy deployments is however, by its nature, often exposed and highly energetic. This can leave developers in the costly position of paying expensive day rates for vessels and equipment while they sit in harbour waiting for calmer weather.
For new technology the effect and cost of weather waiting has an even greater impact. It is prudent for new technology to undergo a structured work-up programme to progressively and gradually increase exposure to weather and length of time between inspections. This controls risks allowing regular inspection and early detection of faults. Almost all fields of engineering adopt this type of technology commissioning programme. New vessels undergo staged sea-trials, initially in calm seas before moving into exposed waters.
For moored marine structures, such as wave and tidal technologies, a staged work-up programme relies on regular access to remove the machine and then to redeploy once weather is reduced, faults rectified or inspections complete.
The key is being able to remove quickly, so as not to end up in higher weather conditions than you are ready to test in or being unable to remove a device while faults escalate. However, if installation and removal operations are complex, require very calm weather, specialist vessels or take a long time, then this can quickly result in the work-up programme stalling with long waits to redeploy and mounting vessel costs (and often impatient investors).
This is where a quick connection system (QCS) can transform marine operations. A QCS is designed to enable rapid connection and disconnection of a marine renewable device to its mooring and subsea cable infrastructure – reducing weather waiting and increasing weather operation limits by avoiding the need for cable handling, heavy lifting, or complex on deck operations. Such a system can also reduce vessel requirements and the need for specialist expertise offshore. A QCS can also transform the safety case for onsite operations due to the reduction of manual interventions and deck work required as well as general time onsite.
Quoceant is currently designing the Q-Connect QCS system. The system can be configured in several ways to suit different applications including wave and tidal devices. Quoceant are also adapting the concept for use with floating wind. Q-Connect is designed to:
Provide dual mechanical and electrical and comms. connection in one, ‘hands-free’ operation
Be used for surface, mid-water, or seabed connection
Offer a connection solution that works with slack or taught moorings
Provide for mooring lines which include tidal compensation or tensioning systems
Q-Connect has benefited from three stages of Wave Energy Scotland funding and is now undergoing qualification testing. You can read more about the technology here.
About the authors:
Beth Dickens is a Director and co-founder of Quoceant. She is a chartered mechanical engineer and has 20 years' experience working in the marine sector. Beth has expertise in offshore engineering including design of mechanical systems, modelling, and performance analysis. Prior to Quoceant, Beth was Operations Development Manager at Pelamis Wave Power, where she managed the delivery of the full-scale Pelamis operations programme. Pelamis incorporated a QCS.
Beth is project manager for the Q-Connect development.
Rosalind Hart is a co-founder and senior engineer at Quoceant. She specialises in offshore engineering and business development for the marine energy sector. She is a chartered mechanical engineer with the IMechE and has over 15 years’ experience working in the sector. Prior to co-founding Quoceant, Rosalind worked at Pelamis Wave Power taking a leading role in the mooring analysis and associated verification process for four full-scale Pelamis deployments.
Get in touch; Rosalind.Hart@Quoceant.com