Crown Estate Examines O&M Cost Reduction by Improving Jack-Up Vessels

The Crown Estate has published its latest report aimed at improving the performance of the offshore wind sector, focusing on the more effective use of jack-up vessels to help bring down costs in the maintenance of offshore wind turbines. 

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By working with industry to identify common challenges and opportunities, the report draws a number of recommendations to improve repair times, reduce repair cost and address risk. In particular, the report highlights that increased collaboration between wind farm owners around chartering jack-up vessels could help reduce costs. The report goes on to suggest a flexible charter club, where owners pre-plan for vessel sharing without engaging a full-time shared vessel.

Huub den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind at The Crown Estate said: “We have been a major player in the development of the offshore wind industry for over 10 years and seen significant growth in that time to the point where there are now economies of scale to be found in the effective use of jack-up vessels. This report is part of our strategy to encourage the industry to work together where appropriate to help bring down costs.”

More than 500 jack-up vessel interventions at operational offshore wind farms have taken place in the UK to date, and long periods of turbine downtime can occur while repair campaigns are planned and delivered. This downtime can result in millions of pounds of lost revenue. In addition, jack-up vessel deployment and mobilisation costs can form a substantial proportion of repair bills and can make fast repairs of single turbines challenging to justify in isolation.

The report finds that faster response times and more efficient project planning can help lower the cost of energy. This is especially apparent with the increasing scale of deployment and geographic clustering of offshore wind farms in the UK and elsewhere. Greater collaboration could therefore minimise lost production revenue by £52mn–£110mn per year across currently operational UK offshore wind farms.

‘Jack-up vessel optimisation’ complements the Crown Estate’s broader role in the renewables sector as it works to support the development the offshore wind industry in the UK, with up to a £100 million of investment. This has been targeted at a range of initiatives and research designed to accelerate development and attract investors, such as the Marine Data Exchange, which provides unique access to survey data and reports collated during the planning, building and operating of offshore renewable energy projects.

Press release, September 01, 2014; Image: The Crown Estate