New tech looks to solve major offshore wind challenge

by | Jun 14, 2023 | Kinewell Energy, KLOC, Press Release

A British tech firm which has helped deliver some of the world’s largest offshore wind farms has unveiled a new software solution to address the key challenges associated with offshore energy transmission systems.

Taking to the Innovation Stage at Global Offshore Wind in London today [14 June], Kinewell Energy officially launched its Kinewell Designing Offshore Transmission Systems (KDOTS) software solution to an audience comprising some of the biggest names in energy.

The brainchild of senior R&D and consultant engineer, Dr Henna Bains, KDOTS – developed alongside researchers at Durham University and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult – uses advanced mathematical methods to help developers identify the easiest, most cost-effective ways of transmitting energy from offshore wind farms to shore whilst also considering various sources of uncertainty in such decision-making processes.

Dr Bains first envisioned the concept in 2017 while studying for a PhD in engineering at Durham University co-supervised by ORE Catapult. At that time, the wind energy research group at Durham University had also secured major funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to research impacts of uncertainty into operational planning decisions for far-offshore wind farms.

The overlaps between the two projects led to securing further funding through the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) and the ORE Catapult, to explore routes to deploy the technology, as an integrated planning platform, leading to a collaboration with Kinewell Energy.

Six years later, Dr Bains now works full-time at Kinewell Energy and is finally seeing the fruits of her labour, after proudly introducing her innovation to the world.

She said: “It was fantastic to take to the stage at Global Offshore Wind and finally introduce KDOTS, marking the culmination of over six years’ worth of intense research and development.

“Determining the appropriate technology choices for the transmission system transporting the energy generated by offshore wind farms to shore can be incredibly challenging due to numerous factors that need to be considered, many of which are subject to severe uncertainty.

“This is what initially inspired our research into how advanced mathematics and statistics could help us to robustly handle any uncertainty surrounding the economic assessments of future offshore wind projects and understand the most appropriate configuration of the export transmission system.

“I spent the best part of six years researching the concept – both through my PhD where I developed code for planning transmission systems and during a year of extra research – however it wasn’t until I was introduced to the Kinewell Energy team in 2020 that I realised just how much potential it had.

“Not only did we have a shared ambition of improving operation and infrastructure planning in offshore wind, but they were also North East of England based and had a team of experts committed to helping bring it to market.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to help commercialise the product and I’m delighted with the response it has received so far.”

Since its launch in 2015, Kinewell Energy’s cable layout and heatmapping solutions have been utilised by some of the world’s largest energy providers on offshore wind projects cumulatively totalling over 13.1 GW and the company is confident that KDOTS will prove to be just as big a success.

Founder Dr Andrew Jenkins added: “Seeing Henna launch KDOTS at Global Offshore Wind was a proud moment for everyone associated with the company.

“With so many variables to consider when plotting how to transmit energy from offshore wind farms to the grid, it can be a daunting task for developers to consider all relevant options. Henna has created a platform which can help not only consider the hundreds of relevant options, but also factor in many of the uncertainties to enable clients to choose the most appropriate export system for their specific risk profile.

“It’s like nothing the world has seen before and we’re delighted that, with our partners in both the public and private sectors, we will now be able to utilise this technology alongside our existing solutions to help speed up the rate of adoption of wind power the world-over.”

Dr Behzad Kazemtabrizi, Associate Professor at Durham University, said: “This work is the culmination of years of research into large-scale wind energy integration carried out at Durham University.

It is a great example of how interdisciplinary research can work successfully toward a common goal in which state-of-the-art mathematical and statistical methods have been coupled with engineering know-how to further our progress toward a net zero future.”

The development of KDOTS was also supported by match-funding through the £3.5m Technology Innovation and Green Growth in Offshore Renewables (TIGGOR) programme, delivered by ORE Catapult and funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Paul McKeever, Head of Electrical Research at ORE Catapult, added: “I have been working with the teams at Kinewell Energy and Durham University for several years now and it is fantastic to see this work starting to fulfil its significant potential in commercial applications because of programmes like TIGGOR and the earlier more targeted co-funded research with Durham University.

“The offshore renewable sector needs to develop new and improved processes to assist the huge scale-up and industrialisation challenges that lie ahead as we strive to meet the 2030 and 2050 net zero targets. The optimisation of the transmission system is certainly one of those challenges and the development of KDOTS coupled with Kinewell Energy’s KLOC software platform are just two of a wider set of excellent offerings from the team who are focused on providing flexible and optimised solutions for its client base.”

In 2022, Kinewell Energy was featured by Business Live as one of the five most promising companies poised for success in 2023 and in May 2023 was awarded ‘Energy Innovation of the Year’ by the VentureFest North East Innovation Awards.

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