In the harnessing of wind energy, the maintenance of offshore wind turbines accounts for a quarter of the total costs. Over the years TNO has been researching ways to maximise maintenance efficiency and thereby minimise costs. The emphasis is on predicting and planning maintenance, the influence of sea conditions and also the human factor.
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Cost and planning analysis
For example, we have developed tools that enable companies to make both short and long-term planning and cost analyses for the installation, maintenance and dismantling of the turbines. Our tools will help those companies save on costs through more efficient maintenance and more effective deployment of staff. These tools are among the best in the world.
Maintenance per wind turbine
The information from these tools makes it possible to calculate how much maintenance each turbine in a wind farm requires. Some turbines at specific wind farm locations are subject to lower loads, and may therefore require less maintenance. Conversely, other turbines are subjected to greater stress due to rainfall or turbulence. Customised maintenance requires accurate planning of maintenance tasks.
Deployment of staff
For the European project Safety and Productivity of Offshore Wind Technician Transit (SPOWTT) we worked together with turbine manufacturer Siemens, maintenance and ship movement companies and the University of Hull, which specializes in the human factor. For ships to transport maintenance staff to an offshore wind farm, the operator needs to know the weather conditions for that day, including temperature, wind speed and direction, wave heights and more. The tool we developed displays the most efficient planning and allocation of work activities in order to maximise the effectiveness of both the transit and the maintenance. This results in increasing accessibility to the turbines, making staff more readily available, improving productivity and reducing costs.
To help operators optimizing their logistics in and around offshore wind farms, TNO has developed the UWISE (Unified Windfarm Simulation Environment) platform. This allows simulations to be carried out using data on wave height, wind force, temperature and more. And makes it possible to predict what maintenance is required for each location at sea, what the costs are, and whether there are alternatives. Even the most complex offshore construction projects can be planned using this software in a browser environment. Costs and durations are identified in detail. Operators and installation companies around the world use this tool.