Improved operational decision-making tools for offshore wind farm maintenance

For this challenge, SSER is looking for solutions that can improve the decision-making process for offshore logistics and work planning at operational offshore wind farms. The aim is to reduce the cost repairs and maximise uptime. Find out more and get involved.

Background

SSER is a leading developer and operator of renewable energy across the UK and Ireland, with a portfolio of around 4GW of onshore wind, offshore wind and hydro.

SSER has the largest offshore wind development pipeline in the UK and Ireland, at over 6GW, and has an onshore wind pipeline across both markets of more than 1GW.

Efficient operation of offshore wind farms is essential. It ensures profit is maximised but also to maintain a high level of Quality, Health and Safety (QHSE) on site.

For example, a single unplanned and essential trip to an offshore wind turbine might cost a wind farm operator £1,000 to £3,000 in vessel hire fees, £2,000 to £5,000 in personnel costs. This doesn't include any associated overhead and fuel costs. The wind farm operator also takes weather risk, so any days where the vessel cannot go out due to high sea states, or Weather Days, present another cost.

A typical single 5MW turbine might also generate revenue of £1,000 to £3,000 per day, so it's critical to maximise uptime.

Wind farm servicing and maintenance is either scheduled or unscheduled. Routine servicing and maintenance is needed on a regular basis and is driven by component-specific requirements. Unscheduled maintenance is often required due to failure or damage of a component.

Where possible, any works that can be forecast and scheduled into routine visit, vastly reduce the cost of Operations and Maintenance (O&M). Combining this with an understanding of weather and future energy yield can offer great insight to an operator trying to optimise energy production on site.

Maintenance work planning remains a largely manual process in many cases. Staff typically use available data from multiple sources to make subjective decisions on optimal maintenance processes. Experienced staff can be very accurate in this manual planning process. But with a future pipeline of complex offshore wind sites, which must operate on tighter margins, there's a need to move towards holistic, accurate and consistent objective planning systems.

The challenge

The challenge is to deliver a cost-effective method to improve the decision-making process for offshore logistics and work planning at operational offshore wind farms.

Proposals are welcome for cost-effective solutions in a variety of forms, including:

  • Data-driven methods to target offshore visits effectively
  • Decision-making capabilities based on live production forecasting and weather inputs
  • Scheduling which maximises production of the wind turbine

While not limiting the technologies from solution providers, it's expected that providers will consider innovations in some of the following areas:

  • Digital and data analytics
  • Aerospace engineering and manufacturing
  • Automotive assembly and manufacture
  • Oil and gas
  • Manufacturing

Rewards and benefits

Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to SSER representatives. Successful solutions may be trialled at SSER sites.

The package may also include:

  • Support from KTN
  • Technical support
  • An invitation to attend or present at KTN events
  • Support if any Innovate or similar competitions are relevant

Requirements

Functional requirements

SSER’s Greater Gabbard and Beatrice sites primarily use a day sailing based Crew Transfer Vessel (CTV) strategy, where campaigns are deployed from the shore to site.

Solutions should also cater for Offshore Service Vessels (SOVs), that are stationed offshore for weeks at a time, and may include daughter craft (similar in size to CTVs) that are used to access turbines, as well as the SOV itself. Solutions need to be applicable to onshore-based and offshore-based operations.

The primary focus areas for a solution should be:

  • Planning when a successful visit can be made – considering the access methods and weather forecast conditions – to reduce the need to cross operational sites on a regular basis
  • Optimisation of the productive working time spent on the wind turbine, through reduction of waste and improvements to sequencing and processes
  • Ensuring health and safety practices are followed at all times
  • Integrating vessel and logistics data, as well as spare parts and inventory data, where relevant
  • Incorporating wind farm and asset health data – for example, Condition Monitoring Systems (CMS) and supervisory control and data acquisition  (SCADA) – data into the planning process, so maintenance routines can be optimised and unplanned maintenance can be avoided, where possible
  • Potentially incorporating technician reporting and status on campaigns, as well as inspection data

All offshore visits require planning and consideration must be given to several variables:

  • Wind turbines have access challenges including marine transfers, working at height and in confined spaces
  • Effective planning and executing of tasks safely and efficiently are areas identified for continuous improvement

If objective processes are not in place, there can be high variance between the outputs of planning performed by different coordinators, with some having higher success rates than others. This variance is a challenge for wind farm operations and an aspect that decision support tools could improve.

A solution would also ideally have the capability to perform cost-benefit calculations for any given intervention, for example to allow teams to determine whether a decision to sail is warranted for a single turbine failure.

Technical requirements

The solution must interface with IBM Maximo, an integrated management system, which is already used by SSER. Maximo aggregates condition monitoring data. In addition, the solution should incorporate further SSER monitoring systems, including (but not necessarily limited to) Vissim, StormGeo weather forecasting system and people or boat tracking systems.

Maximo Fingertip solution is currently being implemented at SSER sites, this will allow improved tracking of maintenance activities, including live reporting of fixes and delays. Ideally, a solution would use this data to adjust planning as necessary.

In addition, Bazefield software may also be implemented in SSER, therefore ability to interface with this software would be beneficial.

Cloud-based solutions are acceptable for this challenge, subject to SSER IT team approval.

Operating conditions

SSER's offshore wind farms are in areas with high seabed mobility.

Deployment Timescale

  • Launch of the Competition: 17 June 2022

  • Deadline for applications: 2 August 2022

  • Selection and notification of finalists: 30 August 2022

  • Date of pitch day: TBD

Solutions should be fully deployable within two years.

Cost requirement and market opportunity

Chosen solutions may be invited to trial at SSER sites. If trials prove successful, solutions could see uptake for maintenance planning across SSER sites.

Wood Mackenzie established that the offshore wind O&M market will grow 16% annually to $12 billion USD (£9.69 billion) by 2029. A conservative 1% saving on O&M costs would imply an annual market size of £96.9 million by 2029, representing a large opportunity for a successful solution provider.

Eligibility and assessment criteria

Entrants to this competition must be:

  • Established businesses, start-ups, small-to-midsized enterprises or individual entrepreneurs
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base
  • Partnerships and consortia of organisations are also welcome to apply to this competition

Applications will be assessed on:

  • Relevance to the topic
  • Innovative nature
  • Feasibility or economic viability
  • Development potential
  • Maturity of project or solution
  • Ability to launch project quickly or ease of implementation
  • Price to quality ratio 
  • Suitability for the UK and European Market

Proposals are welcome for:

  • Existing market-ready technologies
  • Development proposals to improve on market-ready capability

IP and potential commercial route

  • Existing background IP associated with a potential solution will remain with Solution Provider(s). Where any new IP generation is envisaged, it will be subject to the mutual IP agreement of the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • Any commercial deployment of a transferred solution or newly developed solution, through licensing, joint venture, partnership or direct investment, will be subject to the commercial agreement between the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • Where necessary, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) may be signed to uphold confidentiality in the engagement between the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger. This would be expected to be after company selection. It is suggested that details of IP be not disclosed, Focus on the outcomes of the technology proposed.
  • Innovate UK and KTN do not take any share of IP ownership or enter into commercial ventures through the iX programme.

How to get involved

For more details about this challenge and to apply, visit the KTN Innovation Exchange website.