An offshore wind crew transit vessel SPOWTT CTV

To sail or not to sail: New international study to reduce impact of choppy seas on offshore wind workers

Published 25 April 2018

For the first time, the psychological and physiological well-being of crew being transited to offshore wind farms in choppy waters will be studied as part of a €3.6million project to improve safety.

Unscheduled operations and maintenance activities on offshore wind installations account for almost a quarter of the lifetime cost of an offshore farm, but a proportion of that is time wasted in failed crew transits or workers unable to carry out their duties as a direct result of rough weather conditions.

The DemoWind2-funded Improving the Safety and Productivity of Offshore Wind Technician in Transit (SPOWTT) project, coordinated by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, will reveal how the motion of a vessel in transit during certain weather conditions affects workers’ well-being.

The result will be a tool that will help marine coordinators determine whether or not to proceed with deploying personnel in turbulent conditions.

Pete Lloyd of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy said: “The safety and well-being of our technicians are of paramount importance to us, and so it’s vital that we minimise the impact of adverse weather crew transits on them as much as possible.

“This kind of innovative approach to problem solving is key to the UK Government’s Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies and will be an important tenet of the offshore wind Sector Deal currently being developed by the offshore wind industry.”

SPOWTT will provide a forecasting tool, a monitoring tool and help match future assets to environmental conditions.

Gijs Struijk, Head of Maritime Operations at MARIN, added: “Unique to this project is the way that operational data is used to supplement our models of vessel behaviour. Together with the University of Hull’s research on physiological and psychological factors, this project is able to achieve comprehensive and accurate modelling of the impact of every voyage.”

“MARIN is proud to be able to contribute to a safer working environment for offshore wind technicians. This decision-making tool will make the best use of state-of-the-art modelling and available data to help operators create a safer working environment.”

The collaboration involves seven partners from across Europe, including Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, the University of Hull, SMC Ltd, providing marine coordination services, Dutch research institutes MARIN and ECN, and BMO Offshore, a data service provider to the offshore wind industry.

The partners estimate that if, by 2020, this solution is applied across the currently installed fleet of 1,300 Siemens 3.6MW wind turbine generators, revenue could increase by €11m per annum.

Chris Hill, Operational Performance Director for ORE Catapult, added: “This project is ground-breaking in that, for the first time, we are combining extensive research from both the vessels used to transport technicians and the psychological and physiological impacts on the technicians themselves.

“The resultant digital decision-making tool could transform our approach to technician-led operations and maintenance activities.”

Dr Fiona Earle, part of the team carrying out the research at the University of Hull, added: “This project looks at the effect of transit in adverse weather conditions on technician state and their ability to engage safely with work, and this is really not well understood at present. We are undertaking fundamental research into how these effects manifest themselves within the technicians, and impact upon the technicians’ health and well-being.”

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