Scaling offshore wind farm production with repeatable Cisco Validated Designs
ScottishPower Renewables, a world leader in wind energy, created with Cisco a blueprint for offshore wind farms connectivity, simplifying the deployment of complex and remotely managed networks.
Industry: Energy and utilities
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Size: 5600 employees
The climate crisis is only deepening. Companies are setting net-zero goals and prioritizing transitioning to clean energy.
ScottishPower Renewables is part of Iberdrola, a global energy leader and top producer of wind power. It has more than 39 gigawatts (GW) of power in renewable projects operating across the world and 100 GW in potential, future renewable projects. Responsible for progressing Iberdrola's renewable energy projects in the United Kingdom, ScottishPower Renewables manages the development, construction, and operation of offshore wind farms throughout the world. It currently has over 40 operational wind farm sites generating more than 3 GW of clean electricity.
ScottishPower Renewables is one of the leading renewables developers in the United Kingdom and is driving the change to a cleaner and low-carbon future. It is investing almost GBP£3 billion (approximately US$3.8 billion) between 2023 and 2025 across offshore and onshore wind and solar generation and is increasing homegrown clean electricity generation in the United Kingdom to support energy security.
Offshore wind farms are, by their very nature, in the midst of oceans. Building and operating them brings highly complex communications challenges: They require a variety of fixed and wireless network technologies, the ability to connect critical remote systems, and seamless integration. Reliable and secure connectivity is essential for monitoring and controlling the offshore—and therefore remote—assets. Management and control would be challenging without reliable and secure communications infrastructure. A wind farm's network must be easy to deploy, monitor, upgrade, and troubleshoot. Its design also needs to be standardized to reduce bespoke work with numerous variables and associated risks. Delivering different architectures to accommodate specific aspects of projects adds complexity and cost and can delay project delivery.
With no telecommunications services readily available offshore, ScottishPower Renewables needs to build its own communications network for deployments. This network must provide the connectivity required during the construction and operational phases of offshore wind farms. The company first provides vessels to house the people who will construct the wind farm. The construction vessels need connectivity so those workers can access Wi-Fi, streaming services, and other telecommunication services while at work and while resting between shifts. The company also must provide long-range wireless connectivity for the many sea vessels hard at work during the construction and throughout the long-term maintenance of the wind farm. Once wind farms are built, the company also needs to provide the connectivity for its numerous industrial and IT assets. With the wind farm being critical infrastructure and operations carried out remotely, security is a top priority for ScottishPower Renewables; secure communications are imperative for operating and maintaining the wind farm.
“The offshore environment is a very unique place with very unique challenges. We need a tried and tested network infrastructure that covers all elements of our operations and maintenance and provides a secure way for those elements to communicate. And that's exactly what Cisco developed with us for the [Cisco Validated Design guide].”Andrew Blair, Lead Telecoms Engineer, ScottishPower Renewables
Saint-Brieuc is Iberdrola's first large-scale offshore wind power project in Brittany in northwestern France. The immense undertaking is built with the capacity to generate 496 megawatts (MW) of clean energy from 62 turbines—enough clean energy for around 835,000 people—when it is fully operational. To deliver the project, the company required communications from onshore and offshore substations to data centers and from vessels to offices. Ideally, a communications network could be designed that would be repeatable and usable for future wind farm projects.
ScottishPower Renewables collaborated with Cisco to produce the Cisco Validated Designs for offshore wind farm projects. To confirm that the design supported the needs of stakeholders, Cisco gathered requirements from offshore wind farm operators and wind turbine manufacturers; Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors; Telecom Systems Integrators (TSI); and other Cisco partners that provide offshore services. Support from the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) helped develop a robust, resiliency-focused solution to improve network reliability and availability. The comprehensive, hardened, and secure technology stack thoroughly covers the elements of communications for wind farm operations and maintenance.
Andrew Blair, the lead telecoms engineer for ScottishPower Renewables, explained the importance of a validated design: "The offshore environment is a very unique place with very unique challenges. We need a tried and tested network infrastructure that covers all elements of our operations and maintenance and provides a secure way for those elements to communicate. And, that's exactly what Cisco developed with us for the Cisco Validated Design."
The comprehensively tested design lowers deployment risk so offshore wind developers and other participants in the offshore wind ecosystem can confidently deploy their vital communication networks. The design was first thoroughly vetted in the lab by Cisco experts who captured and shared best practices learned in both high-level and low-level designs. Cisco will continue to capture and share any further learnings from Saint-Brieuc, the design's pilot project.
During the early stages of the offshore wind farm project, the Cisco Validated Design helped ScottishPower Renewables streamline procurement and reduce the likelihood of bespoke designs emerging for individual offshore projects. Once the wind farm is operational, automation is expected to significantly improve efficiency. Automating Day Zero provisioning can help boost operations teams in deploying network equipment quickly and consistently, and automation can bring consistency, from security policies to device replacement, refresh, compliance, and assurance.
ScottishPower Renewables can rest confidently knowing that the Cisco Validated Design minimizes security risks by adopting the zero-trust principles found within the International Society of Automation (ISA)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 62443 series of cybersecurity standards for industrial automation and control systems (IACS). Solutions described in the Cisco Validated Design can also assist with regulatory compliance by providing detailed visibility into operational technology assets and their communications, helping to detect and remediate threats as well as reporting them as mandated by the European Union and United Kingdom with the Network and Information Security Directive (NIS).
The Offshore Wind Cisco Validated Designs are the blueprint for ScottishPower Renewables and its future offshore wind farm deployments across the world. Cisco strives to expand, evolve, and improve the design to incorporate new requirements and use cases as they emerge.
ScottishPower Renewables is a world leader in offshore wind energy generation. It is leading the way in designing clean energy solutions and also expanding its renewable energy generation capabilities across the globe.