Scira Offshore Energy, operator of the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, will utilise a new UK-designed vessel transfer system to provide its wind farm technicians with safe and reliable access to wind turbines in a range of weather conditions.
The safe transfer of wind farm technicians from vessels to the turbines is a key challenge for the industry.
This new transfer system, known as MaXcess and produced by Northumberland-based OSBIT Power Limited, has been chosen for Sheringham Shoal following extensive trials, including at Statoil’s Hywind demonstration floating wind turbine in Norway.
MaXcess differs from existing vessel transfer systems in that it has been engineered to restrain bow motions vertically and horizontally while allowing the vessel to roll, pitch and yaw freely therefore extending the wave height limit of personnel transfers for a range of vessel types. MaXcess allows the vessel it is installed on to quickly clamp on to a turbine and operate at low power while technician and cargo transfers take place.
Sheringham Shoal’s Marine Operations Manager, Meindert Jan van der Velde, says the system has undergone a thorough and methodical development period, its design has been approved by Lloyds Register, and it is backed up by extensive safety documentation on all aspects of its design and operation.
“Accessing turbines is the most hazardous operation undertaken during the construction and operation of a wind farm, so by working together with OSBIT Power, Siemens and Fred Olsen Windcarrier on the development of this transfer technology we have aimed to address this issue and improve the safety for our personnel,” he said. “It will also increase our efficiency as transfers will be able to take place in conditions of up to 2m significant wave height.”
By allowing the vessel heading to be adjusted by up to 40 degrees each side of the boat landing ladders, it can be aligned with prevailing wave and tidal conditions. The system is lightweight at 1.5 tonnes and occupies a relatively small amount of deck space when installed on wind farm support vessels, such as the South Boats design used at Sheringham Shoal.
Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm is nearing its final stage of construction with completion scheduled for late summer 2012. The project is owned equally by Statoil and Statkraft through joint venture company Scira with Statoil the project manager during construction.