Personnel transfers on the high seas
Later this year, the blades on the world’s first full-scale floating wind farm will start to turn, harnessing the winds that hurtle from the continental shelf. Hywind Scotland will literally sit on the North Sea, 26 kilometres to the East of Aberdeen.
But while big winds make it a perfect site for energy generation, they will often be accompanied by big seas. In the Buchan-Deep, waves of over 1.5m Significant Height will prevail for up to half of the year and ensuring that turbines are productive in these environments will require new solutions to getting maintenance technicians safely and cost-effectively onto and off turbines in high seas.
With this access challenge in mind, Edinburgh based Limpet Technology is embarking on the development of a new access system that aims to allow technicians and loads to transfer between vessels and offshore wind turbines more safely and in higher sea states.
Supported by an innovation grant from Scottish Enterprise, the overarching technical objective of the project is to deliver a solution that will allow safe and reliable access to offshore turbines in waves of up to and beyond 2.5 metres Significant Height (Hs).
Limpet Technology’s CEO, Stephen Cornwallis commented. “To make operations and maintenance activities as efficient and cost effective as possible, offshore wind operators are going to need a suite of solutions that they can call on to allow technicians to access turbines all year around. Our system will allow access from smaller crew transfer vessels and safe transfer boats, rather than just large, heave compensated gangway equipped service operation ships. These smaller vessels may be coming from shore, or they may come from an accommodation vessel. Maximising flexibility will be critical.”