The Marine Institute in collaboration with SEAI, the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (UCC) and SmartBay Ireland Ltd have been awarded consent from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to install a subsea fibre optic cable from the shore in Spiddal Co. Galway to an underwater hub that will link to the existing ¼ scale ocean energy test facility which is located within Galway Bay.
The subsea cable will provide power and data connectivity to the site and will enable ocean energy device developers, researchers, SME’s and MNC’s to validate the performance of wave energy converters and new sensors and ICT equipment at various Technical Readiness Levels (TRLs) in a near real time marine environment.
The cable termination will contain one fully functional wet mate connector with both electrical and optical circuits and one purely optical wet mate connector. The Cable End Equipment (CEE) will provide 1 Gb/sec Ethernet, upgradeable to 10 Gb/sec in future expansions. This solution will make the SmartBay research, test and demonstration platform unique in international terms, in that it will provide a level of service for instrument development not offered on any existing cabled observatories. The underwater research node will allow SmartBay to accommodate a large complement of marine sensors including high definition cameras and complex acoustic arrays. The underwater node will be installed on the seabed in water depths of 20m and will be serviced and maintained using divers.
Texcel Technologies Plc has been awarded the contract for supplying the CEE and test kit which will allow for rigorous testing of any equipment in a wet-lab environment prior to subsea installation. Texcel’s commercial Director, Peter Shawyer said, “This is a great opportunity for Texcel to expand the family of Subsea Nodes we produce, whilst working with a dynamic team in a unique project”
SmartBay Ireland Ltd is a non-for-profit company which will be responsible for the day-to-day management of Ireland’s subsea test and demonstration facility for advanced marine technologies. Existing SmartBay infrastructure comprises a suite of commercially available technology platforms including a network of buoys equipped with sensors and communication systems. This infrastructure is used for the remote collection of surface and subsurface marine data and for testing and validating new technologies.
John Breslin, General Manager at SmartBay Ireland Ltd. highlighted that: “Government support for this facility now provides Ireland with a unique opportunity to develop SmartBay as an International centre of excellence for testing and validating new and innovative ocean energy and marine sensors and ICT products and solutions.”
SmartBay Ireland’s Chairman Mike Devane said, “We now have a national research, test and demonstration platform for marine technology where the research community can work with small and large enterprises to translate R&D into innovative products, services and solutions for the marine sector to deliver economic impact.”