Offshore wind O&M strategy going global—not a case of one size fits all

Thursday July 13, 2017 13:21

ECN, using its industrywide recognised tools, is mapping the Operations & Maintenance (O&M) strategies of offshore wind farms worldwide. In the last year, we worked on multiple projects to evaluate the most effective O&M strategy for wind farms throughout the world, including EU, US and Asia. The studies are guiding the offshore wind industry to make smart decisions on determining cost-effective O&M strategies based on various site-specific characteristics which will allow them to position themselves better in this ever-growing market.  

The European market is emerging with innovative O&M solutions besides the conventional and proven set of options. These O&M solutions need to be adapted for each wind farm requiring a dedicated O&M strategy. In December 2016, ECN published the first of its kind report mapping out the O&M strategies for five North Sea wind farms.  This study compares current and existing O&M strategies to near future  innovative  strategies for near future offshore wind farms in different countries of North Sea. 

In the same vein, another recent study was conducted in collaboration with NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) that analyses mapping out effective O&M strategies for six potential offshore wind sites in  United States. The six US offshore sites considered are in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Great Lakes. The inputs for wind farm sites and resource characteristics were provided by NREL. ECN’s state of the art simulation tool “ECN O&M Calculator v3.0” was used for modelling the O&M studies.  Data were analysed and an optimal O&M strategy for each site and O&M Key Performance Indicators (KPI) determined, including: O&M costs and wind farm availability. Moreover, as an addition to the study, a comparison of  O&M KPI’s of the six selected US sites with EU offshore farms was also made. 

From the study, it was clear that although EU has experience and knowledge in O&M of offshore wind farms, the strategies employed in the EU cannot be copied one-on-one in US or Asia. Specifically, the US has various regional aspects like hurricanes and tropical storms in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic respectively, icing conditions in the Great Lakes and deep water condition in the Pacific. The study also highlights the importance of developing a local supply chain including manufacturing of the vessels for potential markets like US. Else, there can be an expected 18-20% difference in the repair cost between two similar wind farms in US and EU. 

With current development in EU, there are a lot of wind farms being developed in the same country and, moreover, in the same vicinity. If the O&M costs of the wind farms need to be made even lower, sharing of resources (vessels and harbour) between two wind farms (~400 MW) can lead to a potential saving of 14.5 M€ per year. Also, with bigger wind turbines being installed in the current and future wind farms, shift from corrective to condition-based maintenance is essential. Investing in reliable monitoring systems (2M$/year) can decrease the failure rate (~25%) and lead to an annual saving of 12.5% in the total O&M costs. 

For more information on O&M strategies, please contact Ashish Dewan via our online contact form.

Category: Corporate, Wind Energy