RenewableUK: Offshore Wind Readies for Take-Off

The offshore wind industry is gearing up for growing use of helicopters and drones as more than 50% of turbines consented or planned in Europe are over 250m tall, according to RenewableUK.

RenewableUK’s latest Project Intelligence report shows that those projects, all located in UK waters, will mainly use turbines over 280m tall, while the tallest units currently operational in Europe are 230m.

The report writes that new projects will be built ever farther from shore, opening new opportunities for helicopter and drone companies.

As this happens, as RenewableUK said, it is increasingly cost-effective to use helicopters and drone technologies to carry out vital inspection and maintenance operations on turbines.

Almost three quarters, or 74%, of the 10.5GW of new projects in the UK that are in planning or competing for power contracts are located in waters over 50km from shore, with the furthest located 210km out into the sea. At the moment, all the operating projects are located within 33km of the coast, RenewableUK said.

“These reports show that the UK is at the forefront of innovation in offshore wind, investing in the largest, most modern turbines and increasingly using helicopters and drones. This is a huge opportunity for the aviation sector to capitalise on our world-leading industry,” said RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Emma Pinchbeck.

“As our sector grows, we are working with the aviation industry to draw on the decades of experience which established firms have to offer, as well as the latest drone technology, to operate the wind fleet efficiently and cheaply.”

RenewableUK is launching a second issue of its Offshore Renewables Aviation Guidance and new draft guidance on the use of drones in the renewable energy industry, which aims to ensure the safe use of drones and unmanned aircraft systems at wind projects and other renewable energy sites.

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