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Op-Ed: New infrastructure, new rules for offshore wind

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Risk assessment and analysis is necessary for planning / design, one risk being rising water levels due to climate change. [Credit: BMT]

By Shivaprakash Rao, Head of Critical Infrastructure and Energy Transition Consulting, BMT

This year’s COP26 global climate summit sends a clear message reinforcing the commitment of world leaders to achieve global net zero by mid-century. But the fact remains, the ongoing transition to clean energy is daunting not only in its scale but also in its speed. A key element in achieving these ambitious goals will be to encourage investment in clean energy, and it is evident that the renewable energy sector will play an important role in achieving the ambitious decarbonization targets set by the United Nations climate authority. United.

Offshore Wind

Offshore wind is expected to play a central role in the adoption of renewables, with capacity expected to increase from 35 GW to 235 GW over the next decade. However, the role of offshore wind in decarbonization can only be viable if the installation, continued operation and maintenance of wind farms can be supported by suitable port and coastal infrastructure capable of accommodating new equipment. , new ships and new technologies. .

There are many moving parts during the early planning phase of offshore wind projects, focusing on policy, regulations, approvals, technical aspects and business details. Projects are bound by deadlines and investors appreciate quickly reaching Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) and the first electricity shipments. One thing that can be guaranteed is that any uncertainty present in the early stages of development will lead to the risk of increased costs and project delay.

The redevelopment of existing port and coastal infrastructure for offshore wind installations requires a major change in operational approach to meet the unique handling, storage and transportation requirements of often extremely large assets. In addition, ports must be able to provide unimpeded access to the larger specialized vessels that transport these components to the operational terrain.

Prevent uncertainty

When planning the offshore wind turbine installation and maintenance project, port owners and operators should take into account all aspects of the preparation, including determining the environmental and operational impact of the project. preparing ports for these operations. As turbines become much larger and more complex in their design, port assessment studies become more important as operators need a thorough understanding of the handling requirements for turbine installation and transportation. offshore substations to ensure that they can be managed safely and efficiently.

When assessing the locations of offshore wind facilities, the sites should be thoroughly assessed to understand the impact of operations on existing infrastructure, as well as any potential implications for the environment or the local community, for example example the local fishermen who depend on these ports and waterways for their livelihood. Other more technical factors that need to be taken into account include annual energy production (AEP), water depth, type of foundation, cable alignment, land landing and vessel traffic. , all of which are important determinants of capital and operating costs. If thoroughly and carefully assessed, the selected site will support offshore wind installations that improve onshore economies, as well as job creation and promotion of a blue economy, rather than creating challenges for them. ports and their local communities.

Site Rating

During the first planning stage of an offshore installation project, wind resource estimates are used to provide the essential information that derives the annual energy production and capacity factors of the wind farm, which in turn determine the income and financial viability of the project. In addition, feed-in tariffs and level cost of electricity (LCOE) are the two important parameters that will be evaluated by regulators, utility providers and investors to ensure the viability of the site. To ensure these are calculated accurately, operators must measure, model and analyze a wide range of high-resolution offshore wind and ocean forecast data, including the acquisition and analysis of wind, weather and sea state data to inform design, engineering and operational decision making.

Supporting offshore wind projects early in planning, BMT conducted comprehensive risk analyzes with subject matter experts and stakeholder consultations to identify, assess and mitigate high impact risks. For residual risks, a comprehensive risk response plan should be prepared to monitor and manage them during the next phase of the project, and this activity also serves as input to the financial model as scenarios and sensitivities.

Through a thorough assessment of the marine environment and ocean data during initial exploration, operators can increase resource availability by eliminating unnecessary downtime, they can assess the operability and safety of structures. floating and fixed during design, and they can support feasibility and engineering studies to ensure efficient installation operations.

Conclusion

Port operations can only be optimized by minimizing the number of days operations are interrupted due to unexpected delays. By identifying and supporting the delivery of sustainable and efficient solutions through accurate surveying and planning, operators will be able to put in place technologies and metrics that will support offshore wind operations throughout the lifespan of their business. ‘a port or terminal.

Through a thorough and accurate study of the local environment and waterways, offshore wind installation projects can be carried out in a way that promotes a healthy coastal and estuarine environment, while ensuring that human activities such as fishing, tourism and recreation are protected for future generations. With careful early planning of site selection, wind resource estimation, port preparation, supply chain planning and digital strategies, the challenges that can hold back offshore wind developments become challenges. opportunities and those who support the global trend towards decarbonization.


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