20 December 2016
The research done in the O&M-industry sometimes has too little to do with the experiences from working in field. Study finds a research gap that – once bridged – can help identify many cost reducing initiatives.
The biggest challenges for the offshore wind O&M-industry differs depending on who you ask: What a practitioner see as an obvious and pressing challenge is not necessarily the obvious and equally important challenge seen from the view of a researcher. “That leaves issues important to the practitioner under-researched, while issues irrelevant to the practitioner are researched instead”, says Victoria Baagøe-Engels, Ph.d. student behind the research.
Her study has identified five major concerns directly related to the lack of coordination between research and reality:
Offshore wind is considered a key industry in reducing global greenhouse gasses and has been subsided to establish itself as a reliable, emission free source of energy. However, the offshore wind industry is increasingly under pressure to cut costs and supply energy at a price comparable to fossil fuels. Hence, cost reduction is very much the centre around which everything in the offshore wind industry revolves. In spite of that, the industry has yet to reduce costs significantly.
“One of the reasons is immaturity of the offshore wind industry. There is a tendency to ‘learning by doing’, that has served the industry well in the pioneering years, but which is hindering significant cost reduction from synergies, standardization or generic solutions”, says Victoria Baagøe-Engels. Also, the entire logistics scope in offshore wind with its distance to shore, weather windows and specific needs is yet to find the perfect set-up.
Another reason is the ‘wind is wind’-assumption, where onshore wind and offshore wind are considered similar in terms of challenges and solutions. “But the two differ in many ways. The complexity and challenges facing offshore wind are different in so many ways, that the onshore experiences are not transferable to offshore wind”, says Victoria Baagøe-Engels. The lack of studies and research specifically related to offshore wind puts a strain on the entire value chain.
These five issues could help reduce costs:
Inflexibility of planning in O&M increases the costs. Too many predefined rules limit the possibility for development. What makes the O&M processes inflexible? What are the predefines rules?
The lack of coordinated planned services at the wind farms and no common understanding on how O&M should be managed increase the cost. Furthermore, every site manager has a unique view on how O&M should be managed, hindering synergy, standardization and generic solutions. What are the performance measurement? What is best practise in O&M management?
Many SME’s lack the financial capability to live on the short-term contracts often offered in O&M. What are important in O&M contracts - and to whom? What are the consequences by short-term contracts for the SME’s and industry?