The planned multi-million pound Blue Abyss research and testing center will support the innovation in the offshore renewable energy sector by providing a 50-meter-deep pool designed for testing purposes.
The Blue Abyss facility, to be located at the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway Innovation Park in England, will feature a 50-meter-deep testing pool with water volume of 41,000m3, suitable for offshore renewables testing.
The pool will incorporate hyperbaric and hypobaric chambers, and a poolside crane and opening roof, that allows up to 100-tonnes of equipment to be lifted and submerged into the pool, Blue Abyss’ project website states.
“Blue Abyss will be suitable for developing, testing and demonstrating wave and tidal devices, as well as subsea support services like diving, remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV).
“The pool has been designed to provide current but there are no immediate plans to offer wave. We are, however, in consultation with the industry and if there is sufficient demand for wave, we will look to incorporate this,” Rosanna Turner from Blue Abyss confirmed for Tidal Energy Today.
Estimated to cost over £65 million, Blue Abyss will be able to replicate the challenges of tidal, wave and current conditions in the Southern North Sea, offering multiple opportunities for simulation, cable connection training, submersibles training and testing for offshore wind installation, oil & gas work scopes, decommissioning solutions, deep sea diving, and even drone training.
Celia Anderson from the Blue Abyss team said: “There is huge pressure on offshore wind to bring down its costs and the companies involved are looking at every way to achieve that. Having a facility like Blue Abyss within easy travel distance of the east coast, with its huge potential to support innovation, fits into achieving these targets.”
Anderson added the future clients will be also able to simulate ROV installation of J-tube and connecting cables, and changing bearings at the base of a turbine tower, among other options.
The team is in the final stages of securing funding before seeking full planning consent for the site, with the facility planned for completion and full operation by the end of next year, according to Blue Abyss.