LOC Group, at the head of a consortium, has been selected by the Carbon Trust-led Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (JIP) to investigate the infrastructure and logistics challenges faced in the development, construction and maintenance of utility-scale floating offshore wind farms.

The investigation report and recommendations, which has been commissioned by the Carbon Trust and JIP partners DONG Energy, ENGIE, Eolfi, E.ON, innogy, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Statoil and Vattenfall, will help drive the commercialization of floating wind technology.

The LOC consortium includes Portuguese offshore renewables consultancy WavEC and offshore geoscience and geotechnical engineering consultancy, Cathie Associates. Building on its members' extensive experience in the offshore wind industry, and drawing on new technical information and knowledge, the LOC consortium will outline key solutions for enabling the realization of floating offshore wind farms with a capacity in the order of 500MW.

The report will first categorize all floating wind platform solutions currently being trialed by the industry, in order to provide recommendations for overcoming foreseeable challenges in the construction of 500MW wind farms, regardless of the type of floating technology being used. LOC’s report will outline the essential logistics needed for the assembly, storage and construction of floating offshore wind platforms, and, in particular, cover the details of dockside construction, marine transportation and installation operations.

“Port infrastructure will become absolutely critical to the successful development of floating offshore wind farms. Developers and owners will be looking for enhanced capabilities and capacities from the ports they use to support construction and maintenance,” said RV Ahilan, Group Director of Renewables Advisory & Energy Technology at LOC Group with responsibility for overall delivery of the report.

“The industry needs to recognize the logistics and infrastructure of floating offshore wind will be of a much greater scale than we have today. While the number of units may remain similar, the size and footprint of floating foundations are likely to be an order of magnitude greater than hitherto, thus challenging existing infrastructure boundaries. The Carbon Trust and its partners acknowledge that this starts with a sound understanding of the process, and will include transferring knowledge from the oil and gas industry.”

“The installation and maintenance of large floating wind farms will create a number of infrastructure and logistics challenges that go well beyond those faced by the fixed offshore wind industry today. A detailed study on the dockside and offshore operations such as this one will bring these challenges to light and help ready the industry for these developments” said Miguel Lopes, Head of Monitoring and Technology at WavEC and project manager for this study.

LOC’s report, taking into consideration all candidate floating platform technologies, will look at the logistical and infrastructure phases of development, installation and maintenance. It will scope the need for port infrastructure and equipment and the use of different vessels types; consider the needs of different turbine technologies; and account for project dependencies that can be avoided or exploited to reduce project risks and costs. The report will also look at how floating technology changes maintenance and repair programs, including the decision to either conduct repairs on-site or tow turbines to port.

Rhodri James, Manager at the Carbon Trust, said: “the research will bring huge value to the JIP partners and wider industry. Infrastructure and logistical requirements will become increasingly important issues as the sector moves towards large scale commercial deployments. The findings and recommendations from this study will allow the industry to identify future innovation priorities to harness plentiful wind resources in deep water locations.”

To date, LOC Group has acted as MWS on more than 1,000 large energy infrastructure projects of all types, as well as thousands of other smaller marine operations, delivering marine warranty services on behalf of underwriters, their assureds, the assured’s contractors, or for self-insured clients. LOC is the premier MWS in offshore wind, having warranted over 30 projects in 11 countries including floating wind.

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