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The Role of Fiber Optics in Renewable Energy

Fiber Optics in Renewable Energy

After our recent post on Renewable Energy & Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS), we want to follow up with a more comprehensive overview of the role of fiber optics in renewable energy. Renewable energy (or regenerative energy) is a sustainable energy source that is practically inexhaustible.

Renewable energy sources include wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and geothermal energy. In all these areas of application, fiber optic technology has a significant role. Fiber optic contributions range from FIMT (Fiber in Metal Tube) to various sensing technologies, such as Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS), increasing efficiency and safety in energy production.

DTS is the standout contribution from fiber optics when speaking of Renewable Energy. The state-of-the-art technology measures heat development in cables and provides accurate and real-time information on whether more energy can be allowed to flow through.

Wind Power

DTS increases the efficiency of electricity-generating wind turbines, which is an essential factor in all renewable energy sources. In addition to improving performance, DTS also helps implement a warning system that relays real-time data regarding the temperature of the cable, preventing any risk of the cables overheating.

Distributed Temperature Sensing’s precise monitoring shows how much energy the cable can still withstand, preventing overload. In addition, Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) enables monitoring the transmission of the entire construction, detecting dysfunctions long before they even occur.

Solar Energy

The fiber optic monitoring of PV panel temperatures is an integral element in sustaining the performance and maximizing the productive life of solar PV panels. Solar panels use FBGs for sensing to monitor the temperature of the system. Advanced fiber optic sensors are more accurate, have a more comprehensive range, and have a very high sampling rate compared to other temperature sensors.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy is becoming an increasingly popular solution again, especially considering the steadily growing demand for electricity in recent years. DTS is a highly efficient and safe solution in Nuclear Energy because of its potential to measure temperatures within the vicinity of the reactor, which can sometimes reach temperatures above 300°C.

Special radiation resistance fibers can be used in our products to decrease the radiation-induced attenuation (RIA), making the fiber optic measurement a reliable solution.

Geothermal Energy

The Geothermal Energy process pumps cold liquid into the earth, then heated by geothermal energy before resurfacing. Temperatures can reach up to 400°C via this method.

We have a range of downhole products immune to high temperatures and challenging environments. These FIMTs are more than capable of measuring the high temperatures reached via the geothermal energy processes.

  • Single Layer FIMT offers high precision in harsh environments, capable of an extended length of 50 km, making it an excellent optical link in an offshore submarine cable for the Marine Industry. It’s also a popular component for umbilical cable solutions in the Oil & Gas Industry. The metal-encased solution offers Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) and Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS)
  • Polymer Layered FIMT is an excellent Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) and Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) solution. They are used for umbilical cables in subsea applications for the Marine Industry, where low weight is a significant benefit. The polymer is sometimes used as a ‘buffer’ material to increase OD for easier integration into cable assemblies.
  • Universal Cable is an all-purpose, outdoor fiber optic cable that performs in incredibly challenging environments. The optical fibers within the Universal Cable are encapsulated in a stainless-steel tube, ensuring maximum optical performance. In addition, the steel stranding wires and polymer sheath provide reliable resistance to mechanical stress and other external influences. It’s an excellent solution for Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) and Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), which can also be used as a reinforced optical link for HV cables. It’s a favorite of the Military and Marine industries, where high and reliable performance in harsh environments is vital.
  • Triple Stranded Tube is an ideal solution for Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) applications, thriving in ultra-high temperatures up to 650°C. The helical shape helps to prevent a strain on the fiber by increasing the excess fiber length. In addition, the outermost layer is made of highly anti-corrosive steel, giving the FIMT durability in harsh environments.

Hydropower

Hydroelectric power generation is a well-practiced and environmentally-friendly method of generating electricity. All damns, however, can be vulnerable to damages and cracks, and issues such as these can quickly become dangerous and expensive.

Our FIMT solutions for Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) make all the difference. It detects minor cracks, damages, leaks, and irregularities at the earliest stage, so any problems can be rectified before they become dangerous or expensive.

The Future of Renewable Energy

As discussed in this post, the role of fiber optics in renewable energy is vast. Still, we are only beginning to scratch the surface of its true potential. As green initiatives become more popular, the demand for innovative solutions will further increase.

We are constantly developing more efficient products at our R&D Center, from Sensing Solutions such as Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) to our extensive range of customizable FIMTs. Get in touch today to speak to one of our experts.

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