Bristol Industrial & Research Associates Ltd (BIRAL)

Biral Partnership Offers Real-World Safety Benefits to the Wind Turbine Sector


Meteorological equipment specialists Biral has been working closely with ORE Catapult to further develop its BTD-350 thunderstorm and lightning detection system for offshore wind farms and is installing its technology for testing at the Catapult’s 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife.

ORE Catapult was established in 2013 by the UK Government and is part of a network of Catapults set up by Innovate UK in high growth industries. It is the UK’s leading innovation centre for offshore renewable energy.

Biral’s innovative technology provides operators with advanced, real-time information about thunderstorm activity within a 50 nautical mile radius of a wind farm. Thunderstorm and lightning detection has historically required large and expensive networks of radio receivers or the use of standalone sensors, which often proved to have an unacceptable false alarm rate.

With the ability to provide warnings of overhead lightning prior to the first lightning discharge and a false alarm rate that is almost zero, Biral’s innovative sensor represents a significant step change in lightning detection technology. Early warning of potential lightning activity is vital to ensure the continued safe operations, and safety of personnel, at any wind farm.

With support from the Catapult, plans are now being developed to further demonstrate the technology in real-world conditions at Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Demonstration Centre, off the coast of Aberdeen, giving wind farm owner/operators increased confidence in the product and opening up a route to market for the technology.

Hugo Aniksztejn, International Sales Specialist with Biral, said: “Working with ORE Catapult has been invaluable in helping us better understand how the BTD-350 thunderstorm and lightning detection system can offer real-world safety benefits to the wind turbine sector. We hope that this partnership will give potential customers from this sector confidence in the performance of our innovative new product.”

With its rugged design for marine applications, the BTD-350 Thunderstorm Detector is a standalone sensor that detects the presence of all forms of lightning to a range of 83 km. The BTD-350 is designed for marine applications, where severe weather, saltwater corrosion and platform vibration produce a challenging environment for environmental sensors. The metalwork is corrosion-resistant stainless steel and aluminium, further protected by marine-grade paintwork. Reinforced antenna supports prevent damage from excessive vibration. This design has been extensively tested in accordance with European marine vibration, marine radio interference and marine corrosion standards.

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