The first stage of any planned work is to conduct a detailed survey of the seabed, building a 3D model of the area. This work includes underwater photography of the marine life and key bathymetric features. Additionally, rock core samples are taken from across the site to understand the strength of bedrock and the depth of available sand.
This work provides us with a baseline understanding of the current site and allows CCell’s engineers to design and optimise the positioning of the reef to achieve the necessary protection.
A combination of 3D bathymetry maps, global climate models and local wave buoy data is used within numerical models that approximate waves and currents in the area over a twenty year period.
Within these models, different arrangements of artificial reefs are analysed to assess their impact on the wave climate, currents, and the subsequent change in beach profile.
The structural design of the reefs are then optimised to ensure they have sufficient strength to withstand short-term extreme loads (usually from severe storms or hurricanes) and longer term loads after rock has formed across the structure.
The final phase in the design is to select the optimal combination of renewable power for the system, including the use of solar, wind or wave energy, and to plan the routing of cables and land-based equipment.
Where possible, manufacturing is undertaken using local facilities near the deployment site. Specialised components and the power electronics are manufactured in the UK.
The complete system is typically assembled at a local marina or port, ready to be installed in sections using a small vessel.
The system is typically assembled in sections up to 20m long along the local beach. Where this is not possible we use a local marina or port. Each section is then towed into position using small craft, and the anchors are installed. This entire process can be undertaken without interference to local operations (e.g. local leisure vessels or swimmers). A 100m section of reef can typically be installed and electrified within two days.
After sufficient rock has formed across the surface of the reefs, fragments of coral or oysters from local hatcheries are attached to the structure. The reef then starts to transform into a living structure that not only provides coastal protection, but also supports the local marine ecosystem.
The CCell solution is remotely controlled and monitored from our base in the UK. This allows our engineers to continually tune the power to the reef to take account of changing environmental conditions, while remotely monitoring both the health of the system and the marine ecosystem.
We recommend quarterly physical inspections during the first year, with annual inspection thereafter. During these inspections we verify the growth of the reef and measure changes to the beach profile.