Across all operations and maintenance spend, vessels and people make up 60 – 65% of costs.
Currently, offshore wind farm maintenance is dependent on suitable weather conditions for access to turbines and availability of necessary equipment and replacement parts.
The current climate for autonomous systems in offshore renewable energy operations is fast evolving with the use of autonomous vessels becoming common place and trust in unmanned systems increasing.
As the size of turbines increase and the sites move further offshore, manned operations and maintenance become increasingly difficult to perform. Productivity of technicians is often reduced due to extreme sea conditions, creating a hazardous working environment.
As a result, it can often lead to failed crew transfers, increasing the costs associated with O&M due to longer periods of downtime losses and greater cost of repairs. Robotics and autonomous systems can provide crucial solutions for these challenges in offshore operations.
The Windfarm Autonomous Ship Project (WASP) is a feasibility study to understand market demand for autonomous vessels offshore and develop scenarios and a concept design of an integrated autonomous vessel delivery system for offshore wind farm maintenance.
WASP addresses the identified need, challenge and market opportunity by researching and designing the world’s first integrated autonomous vessels and robotic cargo transfer mechanism for delivery of equipment to offshore wind farms.
The project has:
The project partners have developed:
ORE Catapult has also produced a final report and strategic roadmap for the introduction of autonomous vessels into manned vessel operations in the offshore wind sector. The roadmap provides a timeline for the phased introduction of autonomous vessels in windfarms in order to reduce the need to send people offshore while at the same time, reducing costs associated with O&M.
ORE Catapult’s cost and performance analysis has pinpointed one of the ways this new capability of USVs can increase uptime of offshore wind turbines. Research conducted throughout the WASP project by the Catapult has identified the benefits of integrating USVs into offshore operations and maintenance in terms of additional revenue, higher productivity and reduced operating costs.
As a result of integrating USVs into offshore operations, this would mean for a 2GW cluster site:
Increasing the use of autonomous vessels will also lead to the creation of highly skilled, cross sector jobs in areas such as the integration, planning and supervision of autonomous vessels, boosting the UK’s maritime and digital supply chains.