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Ocean Infinity autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs)

Photo courtesy Ocean Infinity

Autonomous Drones to Survey Floating Offshore Wind Site Off California

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2249
September 19, 2023

A fleet of underwater drones will be used to conduct a comprehensive site survey for what could become the first floating offshore wind farm off the U.S. West Coast.

Ocean robotics firm Ocean Infinity says it has signed a landmark contract with Equinor Wind US LLC, part of Norwegian energy major Equinor, to undertake a comprehensive site investigation survey of Equinor’s floating offshore wind lease area (OCS-P 0563) off Morro Bay, California, using multiple Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs).

Ocean Infinity operates the world’s largest fleet of advanced deep water autonomous vessels, including uncrewed vessels and around 20 AUVs. Ocean Infinity’s surveys, scheduled to start in February 2024, will mark a significant advancement in the nation’s renewable energy sector.

The survey scope will encompass a range of offshore surveys that will help Equinor to mature their design, as well as inform the Site Assessment Plan (SAP) and Construction and Operations Plan (COP).

“The US West Coast with its challenging deep water topography presents another excellent opportunity for Ocean Infinity to deliver the value of its multi-AUV capabilities for its clients,” said Shawntel Johnson, Director, Business Development at Ocean Infinity. “AUVs in scale are the perfect tool for this region providing not only great data quality advantages over towed arrays, in the water depths spanning from 974 to 1317 meters (about 4,507 feet), but also huge efficiency over wide areas.”

Equinor picked up lease area OCS-P 0563 in the United States’ first-ever West Coast offshore wind lease sale last December. The lease sale raised more than $750 million in high bids for five lease areas covering 373,268 total acres off of Morro Bay on the central coast and Humboldt County in northern California. The lease areas hold the potential produce 4.6 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, equivalent to approximately 1.5 million homes.

Oliver Plunkett, CEO at Ocean Infinity explained how the Morro Bay project marks an important milestone for the company’s growth in offshore renewable energy industry the U.S. and globally.

“When Ocean Infinity was formed, the idea of using robotics at enormous scale to collect more data, faster and with less environmental impact while optimizing safety was our guiding principle. This project is that entire vision coming to life. It’s exciting and rewarding to work with clients such as Equinor who share our vision, can see the power of robotics and our unique understanding as tech innovators, and will reap the benefits as we support them in driving the energy transition,” Plunkett said.

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