Located 10 km off the western coast of Norway, the world’s first full scale floating wind turbine, Hywind Demo , has proven successful.
Similar to other pioneer projects, Hywind (from “high wind”) started as a bright idea engendered by a few enthusiasts. The original aim was to expand the traditional view on wind energy heavily dominated by onshore installations in the US and continental Europe.
The Statoil and Hydro merger brought together the sharpest minds from offshore oil and gas technology and renewable energy in Norway. Combining existing technologies with a desire to develop new energy sources, Statoil took the lead in developing Hywind.
Lloyd’s Register Consulting (LR Consulting) was involved in Statoil’s floating offshore wind adventure from the very beginning, providing risk management services during the project and operational phases.
Arve Sandve, principal consultant at LR Consulting explains: “It was a very exciting journey, generating lots of new challenges on how to adopt a strong health and safety philosophy in a tailor-made wind management system to safeguard people, the environment and assets during offshore wind operations.”
LR Consulting had provided risk management services to Statoil for many years and were no strangers to taking on very demanding and challenging projects. This time, the challenge was to adopt best practice from offshore oil and gas operation into a new type of installation, providing a practical approach based on the safety-first principle.
How Lloyd’s Register helped
Before going into production, Hywind’s substructure was towed from Finland to Stavanger in Norway, where it was assembled applying a 2.3 MW turbine. Being a research installation, Hywind was subjected to frequent testing thoroughly investigating the technical aspects. Further to that, we assessed the installed structure against company and best practice HSE-requirements.
One critical factor was the turbine boatlanding. To ensure safe entry from the transfer vessel and avoid personnel injuries, the boatlanding procedure needed to be addressed. Another essential factor was the communication between turbine personnel and the vessel crew during personnel transfer. Although operational restrictions had been established advising caution in rough sea conditions, various operational aspects were tested and modified, such as the vessel-to-turbine access system.
Furthermore, the emergency response arrangements posed a challenge not only to Statoil but also to the public rescue helicopter service for whom rescuing personnel from a turbine at sea was unfamiliar territory.
Benefitting the industry
LR Consulting’s experience in risk management in a harsh North Sea environment was crucial. Arve says “we believe that offshore wind developers could benefit from the experience gained over the past 25 years with offshore installations in the North Sea. At Hywind, we transferred and adapted those lessons learned and made new discoveries; some of which have already been put to use in other offshore wind projects.”
The planned Hywind Pilot Park will push the development of floating offshore wind towards the commercialisation of large scale floating wind farms.