iX Challenge: Heavy Lifting Solutions for Offshore Wind Farms
The Innovation Exchange programme is working alongside Scottish & Southern Electricity Renewables (SSER), which wishes to engage innovators to deliver solutions for lifting heavy turbine components (600kg+) which reduce reliance on the use of jack-up vessels.
Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to SSER representatives. Trials may be performed at Greater Gabbard after required verification has been undertaken on selected solutions.
SSER make significant use of jack-up vessels throughout the operational phase of an offshore wind farm’s life, for the maintenance of wind turbines. Jack-up vessels are used to lift components with a mass of up to 80 tonnes. Components or parts with a mass below 600kg can usually be lifted by use of a nacelle crane. There are no technical issues with the use of jack-up vessels, however efficiency of operations is limited by the restricted availability and lead times, weather constraints and high cost of deployment for jack-up vessels.
The challenge is to conduct component heavy lift tasks in a way that reduces the requirement to deploy jack-up vessels or through optimising the use and productivity of jack-up vessels. Reducing SSER’s reliance on jack-up vessels will allow for cost savings and more agile responses during operations.
Reduced reliance on jack-up vessels may be achieved through:
- Use of self-lifting cranes and other temporary measures to enable heavier lifts from the wind turbine transition piece and nacelle without the requirement for a jack-up vessel to remain on station throughout the works.
- Optimising lifting operations conducted from a jack-up vessel through accurate measurement of environmental factors (i.e. wind speed, structural movement, sea current) to provide a more holistic understanding of environmental windows for safely conducting lifting operations. This could also be achieved through gathering further turbine movement data to improve accuracy of lifts.
- Solutions which allow for component repair to be performed in-situ, which would traditionally require removal of the component.
- Additional lifting equipment which can be safely installed to assist with heavy lift operations.
- Design of modular craneage solutions that can be deployed from the wind turbine.
- Design of more modular major components to enable existing nacelle-based cranes (600kg max) to conduct major component exchanges.
Solutions should be capable of replacing large and heavy components, including the main bearing, gearboxes, generators, blades and other components of this scale. SSER are primarily interested in solutions for the gearbox and generator, however solutions for any components are welcome.
Major component replacement activities are a known requirement across SSER’s fleet, which SSER work to reduce and mitigate where practicable. Aligning with SSER standard approaches to major offshore campaigns, the following considerations should be made when designing a solution:
- Reduction of vessel time in the field to reduce environmental impact of operations
- Improve time taken to return assets to service
- Reduce personnel at risk of offshore working environment.
A single solution that would be capable of replacing components of different sizes and weights may not be possible and SSER welcomes partial solutions to the challenge.
Solutions should be deployed in dynamic weather conditions offshore, up to a distance of 50km from shore and in water depths up to 60m.
Solutions must be deployed safely and ideally with reduced human intervention. Solutions must also align to offshore/marine operational, health and safety statutory standards.
Entrants to this competition must be:
- Established businesses, start-ups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs
- UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base
Partnerships and consortia of organisations are welcome to apply to this competition.