Offshore Wind Farm Maintenance Strategies

PAFA Consulting Engineers collaborated with Glasgow University in a DTI and EPSRC funded project to evaluate the impact of access limitations on the economic costs of offshore wind farms.
The costs associated with maintaining offshore wind farms are, potentially, many times higher than for equivalent wind farms based on land.

For long-term profitable offshore wind farms, it is essential for operators: to make reasonably accurate approximations regarding the downtimes associated with the likely failures; to make provisions for intervention by appropriate marine vessels; and to devise suitable maintenance & repair strategies.

Software was developed to generate representative numbers and sequences of maintenance actions required over a typical field lifetime and to allow simulation of intervention operations required to service the various components of a wind farm.

The application of the software to an example problem highlighted the important interactions between turbine operation and maintenance scheduling in the presence of uncertainty about access for repair caused by adverse weather.

The software allows wind farm operators to investigate trade-offs between different servicing vessels (small or larger boats, jack-ups) and the numbers of interventions needed for effective operation of different wind farm sizes at various locations relative to their onshore maintenance base.

The results, not surprisingly, are highly influenced by weather conditions. Typical simulations indicate, if vessel access is restricted to significant wave heights of 2m or 1m, the forecast power loss doubles or trebles in comparison with a turbine where there was no such restriction.

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