Uptime Develops Digital Ecosystem for Offshore Wind Operations

Norwegian Uptime International has announced its support to deep water offshore wind projects by developing an ecosystem comprising a set of digital solutions whose purpose is to ensure remote or autonomous operation of gangways connecting two floating units.

According to the company, the ecosystem benefits include safer logistical operations, faster execution of operations, reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from service vessels, and not least increased uptime for the wind turbine.

“The next offshore wind adventure will take place in deep water, and we have developed technology that handles the challenges associated with this,” Knut Chr Hovland, Uptime International CEO, said.

Hovland added that 80 per cent of the world’s wind resources are located in areas where the water is so deep that floating units permanently moored to the seabed will be required.

In a report (Menon publication no 53/2022), Norwegian Menon Economics forecasts a sharp rise in the pace of floating wind development from 2030 to reach an installed capacity of about 50 GW by 2035, going towards a global floating wind capacity of 210-310 GW in 2050.

“Space is starting to become scarce in areas where the water is shallow enough for wind turbines to stand to the seabed. Floating wind can deliver power on a large scale directly to global markets. That makes it the next step,” Hovland said.

The UPTIME Digital Ecosystem currently comprises components for gangway control, digital tracking of personnel and equipment moving over the gangway, and an automated pallet robot, with all the components tied together through a cloud service that utilises and systematises the data to improve decision support across ship and operations. In the coming years, Uptime also plans to introduce additional functions and services, in part through its UPTIME COLLABORATE cloud service.

Source: Uptime International

Andreas Seth, senior vice president for rental and services at Uptime International, explained that many challenges come with the floating wind, one of those being that both turbines and service vessels are subject to wave motion, and are thereby often out of step with each other.

“These units move independently of each other, particularly with much wind, currents, or waves. Under such conditions, it can be difficult to know with any certainty whether it is safe to land the gangway from the ship to the turbine, or to disconnect it,” Seth said.

He added that landing the gangway on the turbine is often especially challenging, particularly in bad weather.

“Strong currents represent a particular challenge since they are less predictable than wind and waves. We therefore also measure the relative angle in relation to the landing point in the horizontal plane so that the vessel can correct for deviations at an early stage,” Seth said.

He explained further: “This system continuously registers, analyses and learns from the loads involved. It gives the operator insight and decision support, which help to make the job ever more efficient and profitable, with an ever smaller environmental footprint.”

Seth also said that UPTIME CONTROL, which is the brain of the gangway system, will ensure autonomous landing on the floating turbine.

“Put very simply, this means that a camera on the gangway focuses and latches onto a point on the turbine, and compensates in relation to that. The control system simulates a landing using the actual weather data, and identifies a safe place to land for itself. These assessments are currently made by the operator controlling the gangway. The special demands posed by floating wind power have demanded the construction of a completely new control system from the ground up,” he said.

Seth also emphasised the importance of ensuring the greatest turbine uptime.

“Turbine downtime equals lost green power generation. It’s therefore important that the time required to connect and disconnect the gangway, transfer and return personnel and equipment, and carry out turbine service is as short and secure as possible. In addition to providing safe access for service personnel, our digital ecosystem helps to enhance efficiency, reduce energy consumption and emissions from the vessels, and increase turbine uptime, thereby contributing to the shift to green and renewable energy,” Seth stated.

Uptime International, headquartered in Karmøy north of Stavanger, has delivered more than 140 motion-compensated gangways to the international markets for offshore petroleum and wind power since 1979.

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