Offshore wind farms are critical to many countries’ renewable energy targets, but their success stands on operating ultra-reliably in often remote and hostile locations.
In a series of blog posts we explore the challenges for offshore wind farms and call for the industry to share its best practice.
Technology is vital
Harnessing one of nature’s rawest elements in one of its wildest settings demands getting the technology absolutely right, from the very outset. There is little point investing vast sums of capital in offshore wind turbine projects otherwise.
One of the key factors behind an offshore wind farm’s success is minimising the amount of time spent by maintenance teams offshore. Unplanned downtime is bad news for safety and for business, especially when operating in the marine environment. In our forthcoming blogs we will explore several steps that help to get the basics right and achieve this goal.
Today we will concentrate on the need to establish the right design.
There are vast construction sites for offshore wind farms that would be demanding even on land. Set on the marine stage, the sheer logistics and challenges escalate. This is compounded by the fact that offshore wind energy projects are true one-offs. Every site has its own particular geographic location, ground conditions and wave and tidal regimes; its own unique risks. The characteristics of a site for a wind farm in a river estuary, for example, will post very different challenges to a site further offshore.
The need to develop the right strategy
Developing a strategy upfront is essential to best mitigate the risks, considering all the elements of design, construction, operation and maintenance. When developing concepts for turbines, the considerations of paramount importance are: the design of the foundations; the turbine’s construction, given the site’s particular conditions; turbine and system reliability during operation, with a focus on maintenance; and access to the turbine and its components.