A West Midlands company has shown Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), how it’s helping to cut carbon emissions by adapting 5G technology to control wind turbines hundreds of miles away.

Birmingham-based Fine Energy demonstrated its Osmium service to the Mayor on Global Wind Day (15 June), the day dedicated to promoting wind energy’s ability to reshape energy systems and cut carbon. 

The Mayor watched a demonstration of how the technology company controls and monitors wind turbines in remote Scottish Islands. Graham Hygate, a director of Fine Energy, joined the demonstration from Orkney where he was trialling the use of cellular IoT, a 5G service which allows them to get connectivity even at sites where the internet signal is weak.

Osmium is part of our 5prinG application accelerator programme developed to support innovative applications of 5G technology from SMEs and start-ups. 

Osmium’s use of 5G and related technologies allows them to retrofit wind turbines and other assets which were previously off-network with a small internet-connected computer into the control cabinet of each structure. It sits alongside existing equipment, enhancing its capabilities and extending its life for a fraction of the cost of swapping-in an internet-enabled replacement control system.

The 5prinG programme has also helped them to apply the idea to other markets and sectors e.g. utilities, water and transport.

Global Wind Day Wind aligns with the WMCA’s target – #WM2041 – to be net zero by 2041, ahead of the government’s target of 2050. In four weeks’ time the WMCA will be hosting the International Net Zero Leadership conference – a key event in the run up to the United Nations COP26 in November.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Watching someone in an office in Birmingham using 5G to control and monitor wind turbines all the way up in Orkney in Northern Scotland really was quite eye-opening. It showed just how powerful this technology can be and what a difference it can make in helping to cut carbon emissions.

“It is brilliant that the West Midlands is at the heart of this innovation, just like it’s at the heart of the fight against climate change with our International Net Zero Leadership conference now just four weeks away. The event will put the spotlight on the need to reach net zero, as well as some of the technological solutions being pioneered in the West Midlands – such as the 5G controlled turbines.”

Ulf Aberg, Osmium technology lead said: “It was great to be able to demonstrate to the Mayor how we are implementing 5G to help reduce carbon emissions by limiting visits by engineers to the wind turbines. We built Osmium to prevent a fleet of wind turbines from becoming obsolete and we are continuously improving the system to generate more green energy at a lower cost.”

Earlier this month registration opened for the International Net Zero Leadership conference which has been organised with UK100. It will bring together leaders from across the UK and worldwide, from government, industry and research, to discuss the climate challenge and how best to achieve net zero.

Speakers will include COP26 President, Alok Sharma and Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng. The event will take place on 13 July in Birmingham but will be broadcast online for anyone to attend virtually. Registration is open to anyone at International Net Zero Local Leadership Conference  (https://uk.virtualeventhosts.com/UK100-Netzero/register)

Councillor Ian Courts the WMCA portfolio lead for environment and Leader of Solihull Council said: “On Global Wind Day it is great to hear of an example of how using technology and wind power can help us achieve net zero. 

“We are now just four weeks away from the International Net Zero Leadership conference, an event which will help to accelerate the transition to net zero by showing the power and effectiveness of local leadership on climate action.

”It is not just one silver bullet needed to achieve the necessary change on climate change, but action on a number of fronts and this is another important one.”

For more information on the 5PRING accelerators, visit:  www.5pring.org