Illustration; Source: TenneT

European grid operator eyeing collaborative model for offshore energy infrastructure maintenance

Transmission system operator TenneT has put the wheels into motion to share information and ideas aimed at gauging the level of interest oil & gas and wind farm operators have in a collaborative model, which will jointly house management and maintenance services of the offshore energy infrastructure.

Illustration; Source: TenneT

While multiple new energy infrastructure projects have been realized at sea in recent years, many more wind farms, offshore grid connections, and other installations are expected to be developed in the North Sea over the coming years. In line with this, TenneT expects to take part in 17 offshore grid connections by 2031 with an installed capacity of more than 21 GW of offshore wind in the Dutch North Sea.

As this pipeline of future offshore energy projects will require regular maintenance and materials, personnel, installations, and vessels for maintenance and management activities are scarce, the transmission system operator highlights how combining forces and sharing these resources will enable the offshore energy operators to use them more efficiently while also enabling sustainability and safety gains.

Even though the cooperation between oil and gas operators is already partly in place, many wind farm operators still arrange this themselves or procure these services separately. Since resources are starting to get hard to come by and vessels cannot always be used efficiently, this occasionally leads to long waiting times for maintenance.

Commenting on this, Erik Hiensch, responsible for Operations & Maintenance Offshore at TenneT, remarked: “We notice that many parties are facing the same challenges as TenneT, which is why we want to investigate whether we can develop a new cooperation model. As an offshore transmission system operator, we play an important role in the development of offshore infrastructure and want to take the lead in this initiative.”

By jointly organizing services on a larger scale, TenneT is convinced that sharing the deployment of vessels, personnel, and materials can enable offshore operators to save money and bring greater efficiency to the table. Aside from this, such collaboration is said to have the potential to enable a more sustainable way of organizing work with less impact on the environment and boost safety at sea by being able to perform the same work with fewer vessel movements.

Hiensch underlines that TenneT’s plan for sharing operation and maintenance entails two phases. As the first one aims to show what the firm plans to do and gauge who wants to participate, the grid operator is organizing a meeting on April 23 to discuss this with those interested in such topics.

If the first phase garners enough interest, the second one will deal with the areas where the most opportunities for collaboration lie and what the practical, financial, and legal aspects look like for implementing the plan.

After TenneT, together with Nexans, inked framework agreements for three offshore grid connections last year, the duo recently got its hands on a call-off contract for the BalWin3 and LanWin3 projects. Each of these will have a capacity of 2 GW and will link offshore wind farms to the German grid.