Record-breaking climate extremes are increasing the urgency to produce more clean energy.

European countries surrounding the North Sea are determined to quadruple offshore wind energy capacity this decade, which would make the North Sea the largest green energy plant in the world.

At the core of expanding offshore wind energy is ScottishPower Renewables, part of Iberdrola, a global energy leader and the number-one producer of wind power in Europe. ScottishPower Renewables developed Scotland’s first commercial windfarm nearly 30 years ago, which has successfully delivered decades of green electricity for the community. Scotland is, after all, the windiest country in Europe. ScottishPower Renewables currently operates more than 40 offshore windfarms throughout the world.

To fast track the building and operating of offshore windfarms is no simple task. Besides the challenges of the environment itself, there is often no telco services available offshore; as a result, reliable fixed and wireless network technologies are required along with the ability to connect critical remote systems. Security is a top priority as secure communications are essential for the windfarms.

To build new windfarms quickly and efficiently, network and communications technology must be easy to deploy, manage, troubleshoot, and upgrade. Also essential is a standard, scalable design that is repeatable for every build.

Developing a blueprint to simplify large-scale projects pushed forward quickly with Iberdrola’s offshore wind power project in the English Channel at Saint-Brieuc in Brittany, France. When fully operational, the windfarm will generate clean energy for around 835,000 people from 62 turbines.

To develop this project, the company requires communications from onshore and offshore substations to data centers and from ocean vessels to offices. The vessels house the people who construct the windfarm.

ScottishPower Renewables partnered with the Cisco IoT team to produce the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) for offshore windfarms. Developing a CVD to meet all requirements involved Cisco meeting and gathering requirements from offshore windfarm operators as well as wind turbine manufacturers; Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors; Telecom Systems Integrators (TSI); and other Cisco partners that provide offshore services. A robust solution was developed with support from the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC).

The CVD was designed as both robust and resilient to improve network reliability and availability in offshore conditions. The design includes a comprehensive technology stack that covers the important elements for windfarm construction, operations, and maintenance.

Because the Cisco Validated Design is comprehensively tested, it can be deployed without the typical risk that comes with custom-designed plans. The CVD was thoroughly vetted in the lab by Cisco experts who captured and shared best practices, and Cisco will continue to share learnings from the first pilot project at Saint-Brieuc.

ScottishPower Renewables is in the midst of an ambitious growth plan, investing almost £3 billion between now and 2025 to increase renewable energy generation capabilities. Making it easier and quicker to develop new projects is more important now than ever. Green energy, specifically wind power, will be a core element of a net zero future.

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Patricia Costa

Product Marketing Manager