The Challenges Offshore Wind Faces on the way to Renewable and Clean Energy

Wednesday, 27 April, 2016 - 10:15

Nowadays, the world has taken an active stance on shift to renewable and clean energy sources. The EU 2030 forthcoming strategic framework, Energy Union Package and the EU capacity targets set for 2020 have created conditions for rapid development of the markets for wind, hydro and solar energy production.

Being a second largest clean source of energy after hydro, wind generation represents one of the most dynamic industries at the current time. However, in order to comply with regulations, companies for both onshore and offshore wind generation need to improve their cost and risk management approaches.

Up until recently the biggest concerns for the offshore wind industry have been mostly construction and installation of the power generation units (GL Garrad Hassan, 2013). However, due to extreme environmental conditions, vibrations, operating parameters and limited equipment lifetime, companies are starting to face growing technical and economic challenges in O&M represented mostly by reliability, accessibility and logistics issues and vessel deployment costs. Wrong turbine, blade or substation materials, their improper design and installation would also result in a shorter lifetime, lower safety and higher maintenance costs for the offshore wind power system.

Being a strategic object responsible for collection, transformation and sending the energy further to the grid, substation system requires particular attention and care from the offshore wind industry.  Even one of the constraints it faces, like cable access, finance, extendibility, means of access, availability, seabed geology and vessel capability (Knight, 2013) might result in a prolonged system disconnection and, consequently, increased costs.

As a current solution to existent challenges, equipment manufacturers have started implementing lightweight materials in construction and energy producers have initiated integration of the risk modelling into the business process and application of the risk-based inspection planning. Furthermore, companies have reached a decision to standardize offshore wind substation design and apply environmental impact assessment and weather windows and service planning.  More and more attention is driven to practices and innovative approaches towards enhancing workforce efficiency. Apart from that, turbine access improvement, introduction of numerical modelling, tank testing and sea trial data into O&M models and increased data sharing (Jalk, 2014) are also supposed to help reduce costs and risks related to offshore wind power generation and transmission.

Obviously, the increasing distance between Offshore Wind farms and a shore, bigger turbines and new transmission technologies make costs and risk management an even more complex challenge to the industry. However, competent forecasting and careful planning and analysis would help the industry reach the optimal solution.

Written by BIS Group’s in house publishing

Reference:

GL Garrad Hassan (2013). A Guide to UK Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance. Scottish Enterprise and The Crown Estate. Retrieved on 11.04.2016 from http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk

Jalk, T. (2014) Carbon Trust: Seven Challenges Facing Offshore Wind. Offshore wind Operations&Maintenance. Retrieved on 11.04.2016 from http://www.offshorewindom.com/

Knight, M. (2013) Hard won lessons from offshore grid connections. Retrieved on 19.04.2016 from http://www.all-energy.co.uk/__novadocuments/30386?v=635060424354330000

The BIS forums: http://bit.do/owi-om and http://bit.do/owi-sr

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