BLOG – SELKIE tool development workshops: GIS-Technoeconomic model and O&M tool

BLOG – SELKIE tool development workshops: GIS-Technoeconomic model and O&M tool

SELKIE is developing models that seek to aid site selection, logistics optimisation and financial analysis of wave or tidal farms.

    • There are many techno-economic models available for renewable energy but only a few are suitable for wave and tidal. Most models are not open access, and are limited by a lack of information on both the technology and the site. Selkie will develop a GIS containing site relevant data for both Ireland and Wales such that strategic decisions can be made on optimum sites for specifically defined technologies. Within this GIS, will be the Techno-Economic (TE) calculator enabling the user to assess project feasibility at a given site. It will be open source and populated with open-source data sets.


    • The Selkie project is also developing a Logistics and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) decision-support tool, which will allow users to simulate operations considering uncertain factors e.g. weather and failures and their impact on the costs and power production of a project. It will allow users to optimise the logistics required for the installation and O&M phase e.g. the selection of ports, offshore vessel fleet, operational strategy etc.  Building on learning from existing models, it will provide stakeholders an open access, user-friendly, and flexible tool that can be applied to a wide range of wave and tidal technologies. Outputs can be used as inputs into the GIS TE tool to determine the overall financial viability of the project scenario.


An interactive workshop was run in March 2021 considering the features; user support requirements; and the potential case studies to which the tools could be applied and would provide most value to industry. Industrial stakeholders provided their views and perspectives. Attendees included representatives from Sabella, Magallanes, Wavec, Orbital Marine, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, Black & Veatch, EMEC and DP Energy.

The workshop was delivered in 2 sessions. In the first session, two presentations focused on the functionality of the GIS-TE and the Logistics and O&M tool, followed by a group discussion. Delegates from the industry had the opportunity to give feedback on the development of the tool and user support required. The same format was used in the second session which, instead, focused on the possible case studies that would be of most relevance and interest to industry.

The event led to invaluable input from the industry to academic research. In the first instance, feedback indicated that existing tools tend to be very difficult to install and use, with a significant learning curve and time required. With the lack of ongoing support once the project ends, feedback stressed the importance of both tools being very user friendly with support materials including a video, instruction manual and examples to reproduce. In addition, to the existing functionality presented, feedback suggested the GIS TE tool include a ports layer, providing their characteristics as well as a layer indicating the average annual significant wave height to demonstrate the level of accessibility to potential sites. For the Logistics and O&M tool, the need to provide a database of information for users was stressed since it is often difficult to find the level of detail suggested in the models e.g. vessel costs.

The second session examined the case studies of most interest to the industry audience. Both tools will run these case studies, providing examples for how to use the tools developed as well as recommendations on the optimal sites and logistics scenarios for near term pilot wave and tidal farms as well as the potential impacts of upscaling. Feedback suggested first looking at a pilot project of 2 devices (2-4MW capacity); upscaling to 10-15 full scale devices; and a final commercial farm of 50-100 full scale devices (up to 20MW capacity). Key research questions should consider the lead times required to access sites for planned interventions; comparing on and offshore maintenance scenarios; considering replacing devices that fail while undertaking maintenance onshore; investigating spare part requirements e.g. storage in port warehouse; the application of different curves to failure rates e.g. bathtub versus Weibull curve and adjust condition based maintenance depending on the curve applied; undertake sensitivity analysis on key uncertain factors e.g. the significant wave height limit (Hs) for towing operations and applying learning curves on failure rates and operation durations to simulate improvements as technology matures.

The workshop significantly validated the current planned functionality of both tools and the intended support and learning materials that will be put in place e.g. demonstration videos and examples. Participants also identified a number of additional areas that could be included (resource and time allowing) e.g. varying costs in the logistics model to consider uncertainty and additional layers in the GIS TE tool. Feedback will also help shape the case studies and optimisation scenarios that will be examined, ensuring that they are industry relevant.

Both models are now in development with the GIS TE tool at an advanced stage and initial internal testing commencing on the Logistics and O&M tool in June 2021. It is anticipated that the tools will be released with an additional workshop for user training in Spring 2022.

Learn more about the GIS TE tool here

Learn more about the Logistics and O&M tool here