Galway Bay Sub Sea Cable Observatory

The Marine Institute is collaborating with SEAI, MaREI (UCC) and SmartBay Ireland to develop a national test and demonstration facility for marine energy and technology at the ¼-scale ocean energy test site, in north Galway Bay, near Spiddal.

The total cost of the project is circa €3.6m which is funded through a grant from SFI.  A 4km fibre optic telecommunications cable, containing 12 fibres was deployed in April 2015 (See press release for further information). When fully operational, the cable termination will contain one fully functional wet mate connector with both electrical and optical circuits and one purely optical wet mate connector. The Cable End Equipment (CEE) will provide 400V DC 3.5kW and 1 Gb/sec Ethernet, upgradeable to 10 Gb/sec in future expansions.

The proposed Ocean Energy Test Bed consists of:

  • A standard telecommunications cable from a shore station via the new pier at Spiddal (west) to the wave energy test site providing power and data connectivity
  • Subsea test and monitoring platforms
  • Floating sea station platform

The site will be used for the purposes of testing, demonstrating and validation of renewable energy devices and marine environmental sensors and technologies. The cable was installed in April 2015 using the Marine Institute’s research vessel the R.V. Celtic Explorer.

Marine instruments and sensors can be brought to the test site and plugged into dedicated science ports on the observatory. They can use power from the observatory or use internal power as desired; they can use the observatory’s data facilities or use internal data storage for posterior analysis, as deemed more suitable for the test and validation scenarios.

The sub-sea cabled observatory includes a fibre optic 1 Gbps data and 400v DC power cable, and a sub-sea cabled sensor platform which will host a variety of sensors and equipment. The sensor platform will have 23 ports, 13 of which will be available to test and demonstrate new and novel equipment in near real-time. Of these 23 ports 4 will be optical and 18 electrical (Serial or Ethernet); one coaxial port will be dedicated to the high definition TV camera:

  • 4 optical ports @ 400V (1.2 kW)
  • 2 ports @ 24V (75W) (Ethernet)
  • 2 ports @ 15V (75W) (Ethernet)
  • 1 port @ 12V (75W) (Ethernet)
  • 4 ports @ 15V (75W) (Serial)
  • 4 ports @ 24V (75W) (Serial)
  • 2 ports @ 48V (600W) (Serial)
  • 2 ports @ 12V (75W) (Serial)
  • 1 port @ 24V (75W)(coaxial)
  • 1 port for ground reference (not usable for instruments)

The sensor platform in the observatory will host the following sensors on a permanent basis:

  • Fluorometer/turbidity
  • Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler
  • Conductivity, Temperature and Depth 
  • Dissolved Oxygen 
  • Passive Acoustic Hydrophone

The observatory will also permanently host a HDTV pan, tilt and zoom camera and an acoustic array; this array will incorporate 18 hydrophones (6 hydrophone lines with 3 hydrophones per line) over 2km of cable transmitting nearly 200 Mbps of data on OEC-generated noise.

The cabled observatory will also feature an umbilical which will provide power and data connectivity to a floating SeaLab, allowing surface OEC devices and components to be tested in a marine environment and monitored in near real-time.

SmartBay delivers the following range of services and supports to users of the facility:

  • Pre deployment planning, technical and operational advice including the preparation of detailed costs 
  • Deployment planning and support
  • Ongoing Operations & Maintenance (O&M)
  • Data acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination
  • Data visualisation
  • Real-time submerged instruments/sensors visualisation
  • Instruments/sensors demobilisation and decommissioning
  • Overall validation of expected performance

SmartBay has established an extensive local and National supply chain to compliment in-house expertise, and to provide a range of supports, including:

  • Device Certification
  • Marine Surveyors
  • Vessel Provision
  • Dive Support

Rogerio Chumbinho
Senior Project Manager,
SmartBay Ireland Ltd.,
Parkmore Business Park West,

Tel: +353-91-392900