With the development of new offshore wind technology, including that of giant floating wind turbines, there will need to be changes within the sector and a new understanding of the challenges these developments pose, as well as of the opportunities they present.
The Floating Wind Joint Energy Partnership, an initiative led by the Carbon Trust that is designed to investigate issues faced by large-scale floating wind farms, has been commissioned to carry out two studies.
One of these will explore the monitoring and inspection requirements for offshore floating wind farms. Both studies have been commissioned by 12 industry partners as well as the Scottish government.
This particular study will be delivered by Oceaneering, with the organisation noting that there are a host of variables that could make it more difficult for companies to monitor and inspect floating wind farms, compared to traditional turbines.
Mooring lines, anchors, cabling, hulls and other components could all make it more difficult to monitor these installations in a cost-effective way.
Oceaneering will use its expertise to highlight innovative technology that can be used to assist with this and help reduce costs, as well as developing a “risk-based approach to monitoring and inspection regimes”.
Manager at the Carbon Trust, Rhodri James, explained that monitoring and inspection are “increasingly important” with large-scale deployments, noting that the organisation “hopes to play a role in both ensuring that current standards and guidelines are fit for purpose, whilst identifying novel technologies that can reduce operations and maintenance costs”.
This means firms should continue to ensure that they have emergency response teams on hand to deal with any issues, as well as making sure that any employees who are travelling to the turbines have received the appropriate training to minimise the risks involved.
One organisation that will need to have all this in place is James Fisher Marine Services (JFMS). The Eastern Daily Press recently reported that the company has been awarded a contract for selected operations and maintenance services at the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
It will be providing these services for London Array for five years under the contract, which will see it taking care of the 175 turbines in the wind farm on a balance-of-plant basis, as well as the meteorological mast. JFMS will also carry out statutory inspections on two offshore substations.
Speaking to the news provider, Managing Director of JFMS’s renewable services division, Martin Myhill Sisley commented that over the course of the five-year contract his firm will be able to “focus on long-term operational efficiencies, cost reduction and improve overall up time”.
With wind energy becoming a key element of the UK’s power supply and generation, there is likely to be further growth in the construction of both offshore and onshore wind farms - and therefore more opportunities for organisation’s that offer these specialist operations and maintenance services.
Insider Media recently shared comments from a speech by Ray Thompson, Head of Business Development at Siemens Gamesa, where he pointed out how Hull has become a world-leader in offshore wind technology.
In his address to the Offshore Wind Connections conference he commented: “Ten years ago if you wanted to see how the wind industry worked you went to Bremerhaven in Germany. Now everybody wants to come to Hull to see how it’s done.”