Project Description

SSE Renewables develop and operate wind farms. They asked us to support them in reducing their impact on habitat and the natural environment through developing a solution to monitor puffin breeding activities around their offshore wind farm installations.

Our brief was to capture live high-definition video images of puffins visiting their burrows and deliver this data to a Microsoft team for image recognition using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and image recognition to accurately count and record their populations.

We were challenged to design and build a system that would endure the rugged and remote marine environments. Our equipment would have to survive high humidity, salt air, gale-force winds over many years whilst continuing to provide high quality consistent data to the Microsoft team.

The final design consists of bespoke marine-grade (stainless steel enclosed) high-definition self-cleaning video cameras with moisture prevention technology which upload video files to a secure server via local storage and either a 4G or satellite internet connection. Live video is transmitted over fibre optic connections allowing us to traverse long distances between the cameras and their associated communications equipment on site.

Excite Technology assembled a project team, many of whom were experts in their own specialist fields including Cinematography, Information technology, Electrical Engineering, Audio Visual, Mechanical Engineering, and Project Management who worked with the client to realise a proof of concept which was successfully delivered via a RIB craft to the Isle of May. This remote 140-acre North Sea Island recently hosted 80,000 puffins in March 2020 and is the third largest puffin colony in the UK.

Following a successful proof of concept, permanent installations of this technology are now being planned as SSE would like to find out if it’s Beatrice Windfarm off the Caithness coast is affecting the Puffin’s light path as they take food back to their burrows. The electricity generated at Beatrice’s 84 wind turbines is enough to power nearly half a million homes.