ECN’s New O&M System to Reduce Offshore Wind Costs

ECN has developed an O&M System, which helps to reduce offshore wind farm maintenance costs and increase yields. The system incorporates strategic deployment of manpower, vessels and materials. 

ECN's New O&M System to Reduce Offshore Wind Costs

“We’re talking about huge sums,” declares Peter Eecen of ECN. “About a quarter of the total energy costs of an offshore wind farm are associated with maintenance. That’s why it’s so important to make the right choices when planning that work.” Ten years ago the focus was efficient farm construction. “What we’ve now realised is that there was no maintenance strategy.”

Wind farm operators have just one aim: keep the turbines turning. Defective equipment simply generates less money. “That’s why operators need to understand their farms,” says researcher René van de Pieterman. “Which turbines have developed faults in the past? What vessels were sent out to them? What was needed to get them working again? That information is usually available, but not in a structured way and often not in digital form. But you have to be able to quantify such data. That’s where ECN now has a solution.”

That is the ECN O&M System, which combines and structures data. “So that you can see what has happened in the past, and thus better estimate future maintenance costs.” 

“Of course,” Van de Pieterman continues, “the really interesting question is how you optimise your maintenance strategy. You could deploy more ships, for example, or improve your logistics. And if you know which turbines are bearing the heaviest loads and which the least, you can adjust your maintenance activities accordingly.”

ECN uses the Fleet Leader model as an efficient way to calculate the forces acting on turbines. “Thanks to that, we don’t need to fit every turbine with instruments to produce an accurate estimate of the loads affecting the farm as a whole.”

By providing clear data analyses, ECN helps wind farm operators to compile a strategic maintenance plan. That can save up to 5 per cent on those costs. The ECN O&M System and the Fleet Leader model have both proven their worth in a variety of tests. ECN uses Fleet Leader at its own Wieringermeer test site, and the O&M System has been tested and optimised in partnership with RWE.

As Peter Eecen states: “We are in a position to apply both techniques in absolute confidence at commercial wind farms.” 

Press Release, June 03, 2014; Image: ECN