Offshore majors target O&M wins

Eight European wind-power majors have been brought together by UK industry body the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult for a new forum aimed at tackling key technology failures that cause costly operational downtime offshore.

E.ON, SSE, EDF Energy Renewables, ScottishPower Renewables, Centrica, Dong Energy, Vattenfall and RWE have joined the Ore Catapult to investigate "common issues" denting offshore wind farm performance and reliability, including blade erosion and cable damage.

The industry group targets sharing best practice with a view to propelling the wind power sector "a considerable way" towards the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change's goal of a £100/MWh ($166/MWh) cost of energy for offshore wind.

“Driving cost reduction in operations and maintenance will be a significant step towards achieving the key industry targets on the cost of energy generated from offshore wind, ensuring that the UK remains an attractive investment destination in a rapidly developing global market," states Centrica head of renewables O&M Tony Lyon.

"This forum is an important step forward in working towards this.”

Iberdrola offshore managing director Jonathan Cole adds: "Collaboration in relation to operations and maintenance activity is pivotal to driving down costs and creating a sustainable long-term industry."

A recent study by the Ore Catapult spotlighted that a 15GW installed offshore wind power capacity by 2020 would translate into £1.4bn to the UK economy from the activity associated with operating, maintaining, and refurbishing turbines.

“To improve performance and reduce the costs associated with offshore wind farms, there needs to be greater collaboration amongst industry players to share best practice and learning," says Ore Catapult innovation programmes director Chris Hill.

"If we are going to capitalise on the economic opportunity presented by a strong offshore supply chain, then we need to develop a collective view on what the key technology challenges are, and where the industry should be focusing its combined efforts on developing innovative solutions to drive cost reductions.”

Blade and cable failure have been identified as problems affecting "almost all" operational wind turbines in UK waters.