Grant-winning wind farm radio system wins contract on East Anglia ONE

SCORE Project case study, Fern Communications, from left, Directors Jennifer and Clive Cushion and Technical Manager James Cleverley. Pic by TMS Media Ltd

A radio communications system that won a £50,000 grant to help its development has secured its second major offshore wind farm contract.

Fern Communications’ WaveCom custom-built two-way radio will be used during the construction of ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE which is 60km from shore.

The system, developed by the Lowestoft-based company, was successfully used by Siemens Gamesa while constructing the Galloper offshore wind farm.

It proved that WaveCom can cut radio communications costs in the renewables sector and has seen it win the EA1 contract, in partnership with James Fisher Marine Services.

WaveCom, which pushes the boundaries of digital radio communications, was developed with help of the highest £50,000 grant from the SCORE programme.

It also won the Hytera Innovation Award 2017 for WaveCom. Hytera is the manufacturer of the radio equipment used on WaveCom.

SCORE, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), aims to help companies across England to develop new products, processes and ideas that solve problems and drive efficiency in offshore renewables bringing benefit to the east of England.

Fern Communications, one of the UK’s largest makers and suppliers of portable and networked radio repeaters, went on to develop the system further after Galloper to integrate unique bespoke features for ScottishPower Renewables for EA1.

WaveCom can be used to monitor offshore systems without any offshore IP connection, remotely controlling marine radios from shore.

Rob Bush, programme manager for SCORE, said learning about Fern’s EA1 contract was a proud moment for the SCORE team.

“To watch our recipients develop their products and then have them embraced by the market is exactly what we set out to do. The system has been proven to cut costs in the highly competitive system, and is innovation at its best,” he said.

Clive Cushion, Technical Director at Fern Communications, said: “WaveCom was already in place with tried and tested proven coverage for the EA1 site. Using new technology directly focused at offshore renewables, we had a system ready to roll from day one.

“It is competitively priced, with the flexibility to allow bespoke communications solutions to be integrated to the system.

“The system utilises all of Fern Communications’ in-house technology. Our innovative unique products allow our customers to achieve greater efficiency by tailoring a system just for them, but still using the system as the backbone for project operations.”

James Cleverly, of Fern Communications, successfully designed and tested the integrated marine radio package for EA1.

The Lowestoft-based company initially won the contract to provide a system for the Galloper Offshore Wind Farm, located between 34km and 55km off Suffolk. It further developed the concept to design a radio system than can be used by multiple operators and sub-contractors across a wider area.

Fern managing director Jennifer Cushion said: “We could not have done it without the SCORE grant, which helped us cover the research and development costs, months ahead of income coming on stream.”

The company has specialised in radio communication solutions since it was founded in 2002 by Jennifer and Clive Cushion.

Fern’s radio systems, including repeaters to ensure coverage in difficult, hazardous and inaccessible locations, are also used on oil and gas platforms, LNG tankers, wind and oil support vessels, tunnels and power stations across the world. Fire and rescue workers across the UK, Norway and Taiwan also use Fern equipment.

But 70pc of its work is in the energy field where it has experience and expertise.

“There are geographical and technical challenges to providing radio coverage off the east coast. The flat coastal landscape provides few high vantage points to suitably locate antenna at the height needed to give the required offshore coverage,” said Jennifer.

“Our aim is to provide seamless radio communications coverage across ports and harbours, the offshore windfarm sites, transit routes, and back to onshore or offshore marine co-ordination centres. Access to our system will be available to both fixed vessel and hand-portable radios.”

“Our wide-area system, utilising multi-site radio repeaters linked by broadband and satellite, will provide operators and sub-contractors with secure, seamless and uninterrupted radio coverage for existing and future wind farms along the east coast, backed up with multi-level redundancy and secure voice and data logs,” said Mrs Cushion.

“We will tailor the system to suite the geographical and technical requirements of each of our customers.”

Fern is now one of the UK’s largest makers and suppliers of portable and networked radio repeaters and has moved to larger premises to accommodate its expanding workload and staff.

The Supply Chain Innovation for Offshore Renewable Energy (SCORE) programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is open to companies with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than 50 million euros.

Grants are available to start-up and established companies for up to 40% of eligible costs or £50,000, whichever is the lower, with a minimum grant of £2,500.

Companies can also access up to 12hrs of subsidised business support from regional enterprise agency Nwes to help grow and develop their business.

To find out more about SCORE grants and eligibility, visit www.scoregrants.co.uk

Follow SCORE on Twitter at @SCOREgrants

 

Photo caption: (picture credit TMS Media)
1 Fern Communications founders Clive and Jennifer Cushion with technical manager James Cleverley and the company’s radio repeater equipment.

High-resolution image here

Media contacts (not for publication):
Issued on behalf SCORE by TMS Media
For more information contact SCORE project manager Rob Bush on 01502 509388, Robert.bush@nwes.org.uk
Or Rachel Moore at TMS Media, 01493 662929, richard@tms-media.co.uk

 

 

ABOUT SCORE

The SCORE – Supply Chain Innovation for Offshore Renewable Energy –  programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is open to companies with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than 50 million euros.

It offers grants to help companies across England to develop new products, processes and ideas which bring economic benefit to the East of England.

Grants are available to start-up and established companies for up to 40% of eligible costs or £50,000, whichever is the lower, with a minimum grant of £2,500.

The funding is designed to help companies in a wide range of areas, including research and development, collaboration with universities and research bodies, securing patents, acquiring specialist equipment or services and investigating the commercial viability of processes and technologies.

Companies can also access up to 12hrs of subsidised business support to help grow and develop their business.

The current programme is delivered by Nwes, the largest enterprise agency in the UK and in partnership with, energy industry experts Nautilus Associates and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult centre.

To find out more about SCORE grants and eligibility, visit www.scoregrants.co.uk

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