One of the biggest challenges with developing offshore wind energy is the major cost involved in repairs and maintenance out at sea.
“If an offshore wind turbine breaks down, there are many factors contributing to increased downtime compared with a land-based turbine,” explains operations manager for wind energy in Statoil, Sverre Trollnes.
According to Trollnes, a common cause of problems with today’s wind turbines has been lack of robust design and component selection.
Statoil’s supplier Siemens has developed a gearless wind turbine that represents a major step forward in the simplification of the technology – and which promises to reduce maintenance by 20%.
Siemens are now manufacturing a trial series of 10 wind turbines – and one of these is earmarked for Statoil’s wind farm at Havøygavlen, as part of Statoil’s initiative ‘Bringing cost of offshore wind down.’
The goal of the programme is to qualify the technology for developing offshore projects, primarily the gigantic Dogger Bank wind farm in which Statoil is a partner, through the industry consortium Forewind.
“By taking part in Siemens’ certification programme, we are learning more about this technology, and can eliminate teething troubles. It’s also far easier to influence the design at an early stage,” he explains.
The trial project will have a Technology Qualification Period (TQP) of 17,000 hours, equivalent to two years’ operation. The turbine is to be installed on a vacant space in the Havøygavlen wind farm and be fully integrated with the other turbines, and will therefore not require a new concession.
“We have operated a wind farm at Havøygavlen for several years, and we know that this is a very demanding site. It will be a good benchmark for how this turbine will behave,” he says.
Apart from concrete initiatives of this type, the programme “Bringing cost of offshore wind down” will focus on building expertise and understanding of the wind industry in general, and the supply chain and purchasing in particular.
The turbine will be installed starting on September 15, and after testing and commissioning has been completed, the turbine will become operational in the fourth quarter of 2010.