Ocean Winds trials AI technology at floating pilot to boost offshore wind safety

Ocean Winds has installed artificial intelligence (AI) software at a flagship floating wind pilot project to detect people and objects in the surrounding waters in a bid to improve safety at offshore wind farms.

ZOE software installed at the Windfloat Atlantic offshore wind project (pic credit: Zelim / Ocean Winds)

The developer installed UK technology startup Zelim's AI monitoring system – Zoe – at its 25MW WindFloat Atlantic project off Viana do Castelo in northern Portugal.

Zelim's Zoe technology uses cameras fitted with AI software and attached to the floating wind platforms to constantly monitor the waters surrounding the wind farm. 

The UK startup claimed its technology can immediately detect objects such as people or vehicles that enter the water. By installing Zoe at the WindFloat Atlantic project, Zelim aims to demonstrate its usefulness for improving safety at offshore wind farms. 

A video published by Ocean Winds shows the technology working, with objects in the water near the floating platforms detected by the Zoe software. Zoe then highlights them clearly on the camera feed with a red box and accompanying description. 

A spokesperson for Ocean Winds told Windpower Monthly: 

"The software includes labels of the different objects detected in the camera feed such as boats, people, turbines, among others, and once an unsafe behaviour or person is detected in the water, the software deploys an alarm to the O&M team through an online platform called WebApp warning the team who will deploy reactive measures if necessary." 

They added that the AI software uses a "supervised learning" technique that helps it identify humans more accurately while avoiding assumptions. 

“Finding someone in distress at sea is often a game of chance, especially when you factor in waves, sea spray, darkness and how quickly people can drift in the current," said Doug Lothian, chief technology officer at Zelim.

"We see Zoe providing a safety net around offshore assets, where if somebody ends up in the water, they will be detected and an immediate alert sent, thereby enabling a fast and efficient rescue."

Ocean Winds is a joint venture between Portuguese utility EDP Renewables and French counterpart Engie. It has around 1.5GW of operational offshore wind capacity in its portfolio and around 17GW in its secured portfolio.  

Elena Caja, Ocean Winds’ head of health, safety, security and environmental quality, said the company would explore the “potential deployment throughout our projects already in operation or under construction” going forward.