Maintenance will become a large percentage of the total OPEX cost as offshore wind capacity grows and additional floating offshore wind farms are built.
Turbines are becoming more prominent, hub heights are getting higher, and the influence of offshore wind on our energy needs is growing. As a result, downtime must be avoided as much as possible.
Significant floating assets for maintenance are out of the question because only a few have the height and capacity to execute this task, making them scarce and expensive. When it comes to floating wind, the initial concept of disconnecting the mooring and cables so that the floaters can be towed back to port raises a slew of concerns, especially when considering the impact of marine life on these components and the duration of these operations.
Quick, dependable, and safe maintenance is required to avoid costly ships and lifting gear. To ensure flexibility and fast response times for 'call-offs,' one should keep unique equipment requirements to a minimum. Furthermore, low-cost and flexible equipment is always preferred to have available.
Offshore wind is a large-scale renewable energy source that can help reduce carbon emissions significantly. Over the next decade, Gigawatts of offshore wind energy will be built, resulting in billions of dollars in investment.
The task is to devise methods for maintaining offshore floating wind turbines efficiently and safely. One should avoid using large floating installation vessels to save money and limit the schedule effect.
The main goal is to transport maintenance components and lifting gear from a floating item such as a barge, ship, or vessel to an offshore floating turbine foundation in a secure manner. These components must then be transported and lifted to the nacelle, where the wind turbine components must be switched and returned to the vessel. Within the scope of this challenge, solutions for both the fixed bottom and floating foundations are possible.
We can break the challenge down into three parts:
Do you have any logistical, transporting, or lifting solutions for specialist maintenance? Maintenance equipment can weigh up to 200 tonnes and have dimensions of 5 by five by 5 meters. Companies can apply a specific solution for one of the subparts or seek several subpart solutions.
The maintenance expenses of offshore wind turbines operating in non-stationary, variable conditions restrict the growth of the floating offshore wind power industry. Weather conditions have a higher impact on the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms than they do have on offshore wind farms with fixed foundations.
A critical aspect of offshore wind is its operation and maintenance. Many smart professionals in the market can overcome the technical difficulties that led to the offshore wind challenge. The actual challenge is to push the boundaries and pool the brainpower of numerous engineers. Experiences must be discussed as a group. Engineers from across the world are collecting data and constructing the missing links where they aim to find solutions to overcome technical difficulties.
So, what is the real problem?
Engineers labor within the confines of their own worldview. Their beliefs have been shaped by their past experiences. Therefore, we believe that young engineers will develop new concepts based on a theoretical approach, critiqued for constructability and usability. After that, senior engineers will apply their knowledge to develop a system that has worked well in the past but may be difficult to reproduce in offshore wind applications, bringing all involved parties together. All parties should share data to determine the most effective and safe solution.
The Offshore Wind Innovation Challenge forms a community supported by TKI Wind op Zee. Its purpose is to provide insight into the industry's business and innovation ecosystem and practical answers to pioneering firms' business public difficulties. The Offshore Wind Innovators aim to link SMEs with industry leaders to improve market adoption of industry innovations.
Conbit is a lifting contractor with a solid structural engineering background who works with offshore energy, heavy lifting, and difficult-to-reach locations. A part of Mammoet, it chose the offshore wind market as a potential growth area. The significant R&D investment is currently in replacing heavy components in offshore wind turbines. Offshore wind, according to Conbit, has the potential to be the largest energy source in the future.
Conbit’s solution is to install modular equipment at the bottom of the nacelle to replace components from within the turbine. Winches remain at the bottom of the turbine to do the actual lifting of the hefty components.
Conbit has developed a technology that can quickly be implemented worldwide. The investment costs of the equipment can be spread out over several projects.
This article highlights Conbit's modular lifting technology for replacing heavy components in offshore wind turbines. It's a call to industry insiders to offer their thoughts, experiences, and best practices.