Sheringham Shoal Upgrading to Walk-to-Work System

Alpha, a Sparrows Group company, has been awarded a contract to undertake turbine platform modifications in support of a new walk-to-work system at a UK east-coast offshore wind farm.

An integrated team from Alpha and Sparrows will manufacture and install push-on plates, access gates, and handrails to 88 turbine platforms as well as the A-deck platforms on each of the wind farm’s two substations.

Based on the number of wind turbines and offshore substations, the work will be carried out at the 317 MW Sheringham Shoal wind farm off the coast of Sheringham, North Norfolk.

The wind farm comprises 88 Siemens 3.6 MW wind turbines and two offshore substations which have been in operation since 2012.

Once completed, the modifications will enable motion compensated gangways from offshore support vessels to be safely connected to the platforms, allowing maintenance technicians to walk directly from the vessel to the turbine.

The new access system will deliver a safer method of personnel transfer while eliminating the requirement for costly and time-consuming crew transfer vessels, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and delivering a greener more efficient solution.

Sparrows Group CEO Stewart Mitchell said: ”As the number of wind farms in the UK increase and developments move further from shore, walk-to-work systems utilising support vessels are becoming increasingly popular over crew transfer vessels, which involve taking trips to the field from the shore every day. It allows technicians to be accommodated on board the vessel and remain in the field to complete a campaign, negating lengthy daily transit times and maximising efficiency.”

Manufacturing activities are already underway at the Sparrows Group’s facility in Aberdeen with installation on-site at the wind farm scheduled to take place later this year.

”Alpha’s experience working in the wind energy industry, combined with our technical capability allows us to complete all stages of this project in-house,” Mitchell said.

”Since acquiring Alpha we’ve invested heavily to ensure a large proportion of Sparrows’ offshore workforce are trained to Global Wind Organisation (GWO) standards and have Turbine Safety Rules certification. This ideally places our offshore personnel to work across both sectors and support the team at Alpha, strengthening our offering to carry out balance of plant services on wind turbines. The investment in training our people is in line with our diversification strategy as we continue to support the energy transition by expanding our footprint in the wind energy sector globally.”

Photo: Sparrows Group/Illustration