UK ACCELERATES OFFSHORE WIND
Funding up for grabs in Carbon Trust OWA access systems competition
Rikki Stancich, 22 October 2010 (Wind Energy Update)
"In the UK’s bid to install 33GW of offshore wind power by 2020, some 6,000 turbines will need to be installed in UK waters within the decade…[T]he average size of wind farm [is] expected to rise from 30-100 turbines to as many as 2,500 per site by the end of the decade…[They will be] 65km – 285km from the coast…[in a far harsher] operating environment…[than] today’s offshore wind farms, which are less than 25km from shore…
"The UK’s Carbon Trust, via its Offshore Wind Accelerator programme, is…offering several million in funding for the best solutions for transfer systems, vessel design and launch and recovery systems…to dramatically improve the availability of turbines and the safety of people…"
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[Phil de Villiers, Manager, Offshore Wind Accelerator program:] "The Offshore Wind Accelerator programme includes eight developers who have options to develop 30 GW in UK waters…[It is focused] on four key areas, including the foundations and structures (which account for up to 45% of capital expenditure), on electrical systems (how to minimize losses and build redundancy into layouts; wake effects (maximizing yield through layout); and access systems through operations and maintenance…[T]he original equipment manufacturers are best positioned to deliver [wind turbine] cost benefits…"
[Phil de Villiers, Manager, Offshore Wind Accelerator program:] "Today’s [100MW, 30 turbine] wind farms are less than 20 kilometres from shore…[and] require relatively simple access systems…[R]isks are manageable…[T]he next-generation wind farms could be as far as 65 kilometres from shore…Ocean conditions are more severe and the average wave height is much higher…[W]e need a new O&M strategy. We need a manned platform or mother ship on which a crew is positioned on a permanent basis, with turbine access vessels…"
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[Phil de Villiers, Manager, Offshore Wind Accelerator program:] "...[We need] to move away from friction-based [transfer] systems to avoid operations being restricted by the sea state…[Also, it] will require different transport systems…[that] have sea bridges – a gangway that locks into place on the turbine, with hydraulics that could heat-compensate the bridge…A likely future strategy is to have a mother ship with smaller vessels launched from the mother ship for operations and maintenance…The bigger the vessel, the more stable and easier it is to transfer, but larger vessels cost more to run, they are slower, and they are more difficult…[but] the smaller vessel compromises on transfer capacity…"
[Phil de Villiers, Manager, Offshore Wind Accelerator program:] "...[W]e’ll need to build new service vessels…We estimate over the next ten years a global send of around £2 billion on commissioning and building mother ships, service vessels and transfer ships. Around 50% of that will be spent in UK waters…[W]e need the certification companies and industry groups to continue to inform the regulators."