OWJ’s webinar on the walk-to-work market takes place 09.00-09.45 BST on 8 June 2020. Entitled ‘Walk-To-Work: rising to the challenge,’ the webinar is a must-hear event for anyone involved in the sector, which is set for fast growth and technical innovation.
The webinar will take an in-depth look at vessel and gangway selection and compatibility, what is new and innovative, such as the use of data analytics, AI, and other technology to improve operations and reduce costs.
Among the panellists is Ampelmann Operations business development manager Caspar Blum, who provided OWJ with some insights into opportunities and challenges for the walk-to-work sector as the webinar approaches.
Asked where geographically he expects demand for walk-to-work systems for offshore wind to be greatest, Mr Blum said that, in the next 2-3 years, Ampelmann expects demand to be greatest in Europe, where the largest number of offshore windfarms have been built and are under construction, but he expects demand to grow steadily in other countries where large-scale offshore wind projects are already underway – such as in Taiwan – or are about to get underway, such as in the US.
The walk-to-work market is evolving rapidly, and demands customers place on offshore access gangways are changing. The first generation of offshore access systems were designed to transfer windfarm technicians and equipment they could carry, but a new generation of more capable access systems has emerged in the last couple of years, that can also be used to enable windfarm technicians to push trolleys of equipment across from a vessel to the landing platform on a transition piece. Increasingly, offshore access systems are also being used as cranes, lifting items onto a landing platform.
Mr Blum told OWJ that he expects demand for this kind of capability to grow, and that next-generation access systems will need to be able to lift heavier loads and do so to a greater height.
“We also expect the growth in size of offshore wind turbines will see growth in the need to be able to transfer spare parts and installation tools,” he said. He said offshore access systems with enhanced capabilities may play a growing role in the inter-array cabling segment, as their lifting capability grows.
“During inter-array projects, a cable pull-in spread needs to be lifted from the vessel to the transition piece,” he explained. “The spread is often heavier than the lifting capacity of many motion-compensated gangways, and lifting has to be broken down into a series of smaller lifts. Hence a gangway that can lift the whole spread in one lift can could save a lot of time. Most importantly, it would reduce the number of lifts required overall, which reduces risk as each lift is a potential hazard.”
Asked about power technology for the walk-to-work systems of the future, and the advantages of all-electric systems, Mr Blum said he expected that the market will see greater use of electric or electro-hydraulic systems which can be powered by generators on a vessel, thus saving deck space. Electric power would also reduce fuel consumption and emissions, he noted.
Asked how the design of a walk-to-work systems is challenged by the ever-growing size of offshore wind turbines – with a 14/15-MW offshore wind turbine launched recently by Siemens Gamesa and a 12-MW unit from GE Renewable Energy being tested – Mr Blum said larger turbines would require the development of gangways with a greater stroke. “That means that longer gangways will be needed,” he explained. “This can mean a trade-off with less lifting capability, in order to reduce gangway weight and cost.”
Asked whether power consumption is an important issue for vessel owners and how can it be reduced, Mr Blum, “Most vessels can power our electric systems and, if not, we supply diesel hydraulic power units. If they do not have sufficient power, the power requirements of the gangway are known from the outset and a vessel can be equipped with generators.”
Should you wish to join one of our expert panels please contact Bill Cochrane.