Catapult, Crown Estate launch project to improve UK offshore wind performance

Wind turbines, off Denmark

A major new collaboration programme designed to improve UK wind turbine operational performance has been launched by Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and The Crown Estate, with a commitment of GBP850,000 for development costs to kick start a performance data platform, the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) announced on Wednesday.

The SPARTA (System Performance, Availability and Reliability Trend Analysis) project will be funded and managed by ORE Catapult in close collaboration with Narec. ORE Catapult and The Crown Estate will work with offshore wind farm owner/operators to make improvements to wind turbine operational performance by increasing safety, reliability and availability. Better offshore wind performance is expected to reduce the cost electricity generated from the sector.

A SPARTA database will be created for owners, operator and participants to share anonymised offshore wind farm performance and maintenance data. The database will be developed initially for UK-based projects and is expected to provide robust and reliable benchmarked data, which will help users at both company and sector-wide levels to identify operational improvements and opportunities for cost reduction. Narec added that the SPARTA setup is fully flexible and will allow international projects to be integrated in the future.

The Crown Estate, a diverse property business owned by the Crown, collaborated with DNV GL, a provider of risk management service, to initiate SPARTA last year and an agreement was signed between The Crown Estate and ORE Catapult in November 2013. The project was reportedly inspired by the offshore oil industry’s Offshore Reliability Database (OREDA) and the ORE Catapult’s pilot project on improving offshore windfarm performance.

According to Narec, SPARTA could potentially provide substantial and long term benefits, such as a reduction in equipment failures, which cost the UK offshore wind industry around GBP150m in 2012. Also, it expects that a 0.1% industry-wide improvement in availability, arising as a consequence of SPARTA against the 2012 offshore wind-generated volume of 7.5TWh, could result in an increase in income of GBP10m.

Narec said full-scale implementation of the reporting system is planned to follow a pilot project, which will run until March 2015.

Offshore wind farm owner and operators Centrica, RWE, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil are said to have already committed support for the project, by taking part in a steering group to ensure that monthly reporting, the key output, provides valuable data which will inform future operational and maintenance decisions.

Chris Hill, ORE Catapult Innovation Programmes Director comented: “Working in close collaboration with The Crown Estate and other key organisations in the offshore renewables sector will enable us to speed up the delivery, commercialisation and scalability of technology innovation. This will help to meet the challenges of harnessing low-carbon power from offshore wind by driving down costs and realising significant economic, social and environmental benefits. The SPARTA project will, for the first time, produce benchmarking data that has real value to the industry and will contribute to reducing real costs.”

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