As demands on offshore wind installation processes increase, crane technology is being pushed to its limits. Not only do offshore cranes need to lift heavier and larger wind turbine components, but they also need to operate in more gruelling weather conditions.
Increasingly, vessel owners and contractors are looking to meet these demands by boosting crane capabilities with technologies such as taglines and various forms of intelligent lifting systems. But there are important implications of these additional demands that impact crane design and performance.
A number of years ago, it was normal practice for offshore contractors to win major offshore wind turbine installation projects using non-propelled jack-up barges supported by tugboats and anchors for positioning. This was the established way – it was safe, reliable and efficient.
Then, in around 2011, the introduction of second-generation jack-up vessels brought Dynamic Positioning Systems (DP systems) into play. This became the new ‘state of the art’. In the typical progression of ‘order winners’ becoming ‘qualifiers’, today, vessel owners are not even invited to tender if their installation vessels are not DP2-capable.
If you consider offshore lifting operations of large components such as turbine blades, there is a strong parallel to that of vessel positioning before DP2 became the industry standard. During the lift, manual winches, people with ropes and, in some cases, simple constant-tension systems try to keep the blade under control during the lift. You could compare it to the tugboat-and-anchor method of positioning your jack-up barge. Continue reading
Maximum wind speeds have a significant influence on costs and time required for offshore wind turbine installation projects. The maximum wind speed is the speed at which it is no longer possible to lift major turbine components (nacelle, tower and blades) by a jack-up vessel. The restricting factors are crew safety and equipment damage due to instability of the load during the hoist.
Kate Freeman and I recently performed an analysis of the main factors contributing to project delays and cost increases. Importantly, we have also analysed the impact of increasing the maximum wind speed – such that lifts can be performed at higher wind speeds. We looked at the potential savings by being able to complete offshore wind turbine installation projects in higher wind speeds. Continue reading
In this second of two exclusive interviews with High Wind Challenge, DEME Group CEO Alain Bernard explains why the company invests in innovation and how it contributes to reducing offshore wind costs.
Can you explain the DEME Group’s basis for diversification, particularly into offshore renewables?
The essence is our speciality within certain niches and that we aim to be the best in those niches. Our dredging background has given us knowhow within different areas, such as the seabed, sea conditions and other marine environment factors as well as the associated technologies. We have specialised further in related niches, and without losing the focus of our core knowhow, we have expanded our activities. Continue reading
The lifting process on jack-up vessels is a key process in any offshore wind turbine installation or maintenance project. Control systems such as tagline systems are a necessary part of the lifting setup. Their purpose is to help manoeuver loads – such as wind turbine components – to the desired point accurately and safely.
The most obvious source of movement of a hoisted load is due to inertia and wind. Yet the solutions for controlling these motions are subject to other practical constraints that often make it difficult to achieve sufficient control during the lifting process. Continue reading
In an exclusive interview with High Wind Challenge, DEME Group CEO Alain Bernard, explains why innovation is needed for the offshore wind industry to advance and that true innovation will only happen with greater collaboration across the industry.
Belgian DEME Group is one of Europe’s largest marine engineering conglomerates. CEO Alain Bernard has seen it grow from a specialist dredging company into a highly diverse maritime business covering hydraulic projects, services to oil and gas companies, installation of offshore wind farms, environmental activities and more.
High Wind Challenge spoke to Alain Bernard about the main challenges and opportunities facing renewable energy. Continue reading
Recent advancements in technology can bring about a long-awaited positive development in the offshore wind industry: reducing weather risk associated with offshore wind turbine installation.
Difficult weather conditions often lead to significant project delays caused by downtime that extends project time and increases costs.
Of course, weather downtime is an unavoidable part of any installation process and must be figured into project costs alongside all of the different activities required of the jack-up, including mobilisation and demobilisation, loading of the wind turbine elements, transit between the port and the wind farm, positioning and jacking, and installation of the turbine. Continue reading
The cost of the wind turbine installation setup is an important factor in the quest to reduce the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). Research and development within new technologies is key to making installation quicker, more reliable and safer.
But in order to fully understand the implications of reducing installation setup costs, it is necessary to perform robust calculations. And these calculations must be based on correct assumptions and figures that are as accurate as possible. Continue reading
The installation of offshore wind turbine components has traditionally been limited by metocean factors such as spudcan impact during jacking, crane dynamic amplification factors and, of course, wind effects.
Now, a new range of modern, larger jack-up vessels has entered the market, bringing higher jacking windows and heavier cranes. At the same time, foundation sizes are increasing, with the market moving to larger, higher capacity turbines.
Wind during installation can have a big impact on blade installation activities. And this impact will only increase as blades become larger. Continue reading
As the offshore wind industry continues gaining in maturity, with more investment commitments across Europe, risk mitigation is becoming an increasingly important area for developers and investors.
Insurance providers have an important role to play, providing not only financial solutions for risk mitigation, but also helping wind turbine installation projects to get on track again in the event of a major incident.
But avoiding such incidents is in the interests of all. Indeed, the offshore wind industry needs to work towards more robust solutions that guarantee completion of offshore wind turbine assembly and repair.
If a claim is made, however, and the insurance provider steps in to complete the installation, it is vital the installation is completed quickly. Continue reading