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Reducing the impact of choppy seas on offshore wind workers

Aura combines academic expertise with industry know-how in the UK's Energy Estuary region to make offshore wind a viable solution across the world.

University experts are playing a key role in a new €3.6million study which for the first time examines the psychological and physiological wellbeing of workers being transited to offshore wind farms in choppy waters.

The DemoWind2-funded project, entitled Improving the Safety and Productivity of Offshore Wind Technician in Transit (SPOWTT), will reveal how the motion of a vessel in transit during certain weather conditions affects workers’ wellbeing.

Unscheduled operations and maintenance activities accounts for almost a quarter of the lifetime cost of an offshore wind farm.

But a proportion of that is time wasted in failed crew transits or workers being unable to carry out their duties as a direct result of rough weather conditions.

The SPOWTT project, co-ordinated by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, aims to produce a forecasting tool that will help marine coordinators determine whether or not to proceed with deploying personnel in turbulent conditions.

Dr Fiona Earle, part of the team carrying out the research at the University of Hull, said: “This project looks at the effect of transit in adverse weather conditions on technician state and their ability to engage safely with work, and this is really not well understood at present.

Together with the University of Hull’s research on physiological and psychological factors, this project is able to achieve comprehensive and accurate modelling of the impact of every voyage. Gijs Struijk,
Head of Maritime Operations at MARIN

“We are undertaking fundamental research into how these effects manifest themselves within the technicians, and impact upon the technicians’ health and well-being.”

The collaboration involves seven partners from across Europe, including the University of Hull, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, SMC Ltd, Dutch research institutes MARIN and ECN, and BMO Offshore, a data service provider to the offshore wind industry.

The partners estimate that if, by 2020, this solution is applied across the currently installed fleet of 1,300 Siemens 3.6MW wind turbine generators, revenue could increase by €11m per annum.

Pete Lloyd of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy said: “This kind of innovative approach to problem solving is key to the UK Government’s Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies and will be an important tenet of the offshore wind Sector Deal currently being developed by the offshore wind industry.” 

Gijs Struijk, Head of Maritime Operations at MARIN, said: “Unique to this project is the way that operational data is used to supplement our models of vessel behaviour.

“Together with the University of Hull’s research on physiological and psychological factors, this project is able to achieve comprehensive and accurate modelling of the impact of every voyage.”

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