Call for Low Noise Underwater Survey Technologies

7 Submissions
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Challenge under evaluation

Challenge overview

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CHALLENGE OVERVIEW  

Orsted, a pioneer in green energy solutions, is addressing an environmental and operational challenge associated with the development of offshore wind farms. During the crucial early stages of wind farm development, geophysical surveys conducted to collect seabed data can generate underwater noise. This noise not only poses a risk to marine mammals but also impacts Orsted’s business operations through stringent regulatory constraints. These constraints can include restrictions on the timing of surveys, potentially delaying project timelines and affecting the overall efficiency of wind farm development. 

In this challenge, Orsted seeks innovative solutions that reduce noise emissions from survey equipment whilst still being able to acquire the necessary data, thereby minimizing environmental impact and aligning with regulatory expectations. We invite submissions of technologies or simulation models at technology readiness levels (TRLs) 3 to 9 that can adjust or improve current survey methodologies. Successful solutions will demonstrate potential regulatory acceptance, suggesting that such innovations could lead to more flexible survey regulations and enhance Orsted's operational capabilities. 

ABOUT THE SEEKER & ELIGIBILITY 

Orsted is at the forefront of transforming the energy sector through renewable energy solutions, committed to a vision of a world powered entirely by green energy. Our diverse portfolio in renewable energy sources underscores our dedication to combatting climate change and leading the green transition with responsible and sustainable practices. 

This challenge is open to global start ups and scale ups. 

CHALLENGE DETAIL 

Background 

The process of mapping the seabed for offshore wind farm development requires detailed geophysical surveys, utilizing equipment such as pingers, sparkers, boomers, echosounders, USBL positioning (more information on equipment used can be accessed here and more below) that emits noise capable of disturbing marine ecosystems. With the cumulative build out of offshore wind, alongside other offshore industries using similar equipment, noise emissions from such surveys have become a growing area of environmental concern and regulatory scrutiny, potentially limiting Orsted's ability to conduct timely and efficient survey operations. The noise-related restrictions imposed by regulatory bodies can lead to significant operational challenges, including delayed project schedules and increased costs, directly impacting Orsted's business and its commitment to renewable energy development. More details on the impact of the problem are outlined below:  

  • Impact on Marine Life: Noise emissions can negatively affect marine mammals and other marine species that rely on sound for navigation, communication, and feeding. This can lead to changes in behavior, physical harm, or even mortality. 

  • Regulatory Challenges: There are strict regulations regarding the allowable levels of noise emissions in certain markets, which can restrict when and how surveys can be conducted. These regulations aim to protect marine environments but can impose limitations on operational flexibility and may actually result in longer survey durations. 

  • Operational Constraints: Due to regulatory restrictions, surveys might be limited to specific times of the year, which can disrupt the scheduling and planning of offshore wind farm development. This can affect the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of projects. 

  • Potential for Regulatory Entanglements: The need to comply with complex and varying regulations across different regions can lead to additional compliance costs and complexities in project execution. 

  • Business Impact: The constraints imposed by noise regulations can lead to delays and increased costs in the development of offshore wind farms. This affects the overall business efficiency and profitability of companies like Orsted engaged in these activities. 

  • Reputational Risk: Failure to effectively manage and mitigate noise emissions can affect a company's reputation, particularly regarding its environmental stewardship and commitment to sustainable practices. 

  • Innovation and Technological Advancement: The challenge of reducing noise emissions presents an opportunity for innovation in survey equipment and methodologies, which can lead to technological advancements in the industry. 

Please see below the following links for more information on the equipment currently used to undertake the detailed geophysical surveys:

 

SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS 

Orsted is open to innovative solutions that challenge conventional survey methods while maintaining or improving the quality of data collection. This might include new technologies, advanced materials, or unique methodologies that have not been traditionally used in marine surveys. Success for this challenge means a reduction in the noise profile without increasing the costs of existing practices.

Must have requirements  

The core functionality or attributes of the solution must: 

  • Significantly reduce noise emissions from geophysical survey operations, particularly focusing on USBL systems and sub-bottom profilers. The requirement emphasizes not just marginal improvements but substantial reductions to minimize environmental impact, applicable across TRLs 3 to 9. 

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the operational context of offshore wind farm development, ensuring no compromise on the quality of seabed data collected. 

  • Offer innovative, yet practical, approaches for noise reduction that could be favorably received by regulators, potentially easing operational restrictions. Proposed solutions should be technically feasible and practically implementable within Orsted's existing operational frameworks. This includes the ability to integrate new technologies or methodologies with current equipment and procedures without significant disruptions. 

  • Detail assessments of how the proposed solutions reduce the environmental impact, particularly concerning effects on marine life, are essential. This includes evidence or model predictions that showcase the potential benefits of the solutions. 

Nice to have requirements 

Desirable but not critical attributes or functionality of the solution are: 

  • The solutions may provide detailed explanations of the proposed technologies or methodologies, including any proof of concept or preliminary results where applicable. 

  • The solutions may offer a favorable cost-benefit analysis. We welcome proposals that include a detailed outline of expected costs associated with development, deployment, and operational integration, along with a justification of the investment based on the expected environmental and regulatory benefits. 

  • The solution may explore the potential for regulatory engagement, highlighting how the adoption of these solutions could lead to more adaptable and business-friendly survey regulations. Insight into how your solution could positively influence regulatory perspectives on survey operations, supporting Orsted's vision for more adaptable regulations that align with environmental and operational goals. 
     

EVALUATION CRITERIA 

Innovation and Technological Advancement 

Solutions will be evaluated based on their innovative approach to reducing noise emissions. This includes the use of new technologies, methods, or materials that have not been widely applied to marine geophysical surveys. The criterion focuses on how the solution challenges conventional practices and introduces novel ideas to achieve significant noise reductions. 

Feasibility and Implementability 

This criterion assesses the technical and operational feasibility of integrating the proposed solution into existing survey operations. Solutions must be practically implementable, considering Orsted’s current technological infrastructure and operational practices. The evaluation will consider the ease of integration, the need for new equipment or modifications to existing equipment, and any potential disruptions to survey operations. 

Environmental Impact and Regulatory Compliance 

Solutions will be evaluated based on their potential to reduce environmental impacts, particularly on marine life, and their ability to help Orsted comply with or exceed environmental regulations regarding underwater noise. This includes an assessment of how well the solution addresses the noise reduction and a suitable evidence base provided to demonstrate any expected reductions. The criterion also considers the solution's potential to influence regulatory standards positively, demonstrating Orsted's leadership in environmental stewardship. 

Cost-effectiveness and Business Impact 

The evaluation will consider the cost-benefit analysis of the proposed solution, including development, implementation, and operational costs, against the anticipated environmental, regulatory, and operational benefits. This criterion assesses the solution's impact on Orsted’s business operations, including potential savings from avoiding regulatory penalties, reducing survey delays, and enhancing operational efficiency. 

THE PRIZE

In addition to entering into a collaboration with Orsted, the winner will present their innovation to the global offshore wind community at Floating Wind Days, Norway's premier conference on May 29th and 30th in Haugesund.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Will submissions remain confidential between Orsted and the solver?

    All submissions will only be visible by the solver who submitted the solution, and the organising team (Orsted and Wazoku - our platform partner). All subissions will remain confidential.
     
  • Is there a definition of eligible companies? 
    No, we are open to receiving submissions from companies of all sizes. 

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