Renewable Energy - Offshore Wind
Offshore Wind is one of the most acceptable forms of renewable energy. Being offshore, it is in no-ones back yard and has enabled the deployment of far bigger turbine structures than would be permitted on land. The early days of Offshore Wind saw small wind farms developed within the territorial sea (within 12nm of the coastline). However, following the Round 3 concessions that were granted by the UK Crown Estate at the beginning of 2011, Offshore Wind has moved further offshore and well beyond the limits of the Territorial Sea where a mandatory VTS could be established to manage maritime vessel activity. The UK Round 3 concessions licensed developers to produce up to 32GW of offshore wind power generation brining the total potential renewable capacity for UK to over 40GW.
However, placing a huge array of substantial, high value assets within an area of the sea does present a potential hazard to navigation and its constriction requires a substantial number of vessels, people and other large scale infrastructure. An offshore wind construction site carries many of the same hazards as any onshore building site but it is more difficult to protect an offshore wind construction site from unauthorised third party access, whether deliberate or accidental.
Construction phase - managing Vessels and People
Health & Safety regulations mean that any wind farm developer must ensure adequate safety for all personnel (onshore and offshore). For offshore wind farms, health & safety regulations also meet maritime safety regulations and therefore a safety focussed environment for offshore development has greater challenges to overcome. In particular, deploying personnel from workboats to turbine structures involves substantial risk.
The larger the offshore wind farm, the larger the number of vessels and people that are required for its construction. It is therefore important it is to manage vessels within the sea area around the wind farm during construction and to effectively manage vessel operations on the construction site to maximise the workforce hours of the personnel deployed for its construction. The further offshore it is, the more remote monitoring will be required. With many planned offshore wind farms being beyond the range of the coastal sensors used by maritime authorities, it will become essential that the wind farm operations management is able to manage its offshore sea area for itself, especially during the construction phase of its lifecycle.
Managing offshore operations involves two key functions:
Marine Coordination Systems are used to manage offshore vessel activity efficiently. These systems use the same technology as onshore VTS or coastal surveillance systems. However, additional bespoke applications are necessary for the Offshore Wind sector including people tracking in order to identify which personnel are working on which offshore turbine site.
More information about setting up Marine Coordination and People Tracking facilities can be obtained through our contact page.