Offshore wind developer Ørsted is partnering with Pict Offshore to develop what it has described as a “potentially game-changing” technology for offshore wind operations and maintenance
Ørsted has acquired a 22.5% share in Pict Offshore, a developer of innovative technology that could transform the way technicians access offshore wind turbines.
The Get Up Safe (GUS) system, developed in a partnership between Ørsted and Pict Offshore, is a motion-compensated hoist solution that enables technicians to safely transfer between crew transfer vessels (CTVs) and offshore wind turbines.
Using the technology means technicians will no longer have to step from a moving boat onto a ladder and then climb (sometimes over 20 m) to reach the base of the turbine. Instead they can clip onto the system and be safely and effortlessly hoisted up to the turbine base directly from the boat.
The system’s motion compensation capability means the hoist automatically adjusts the line position to take account of the boat’s movements so that even in high and varying wave heights, there is no danger of collision between the technician and the boat.
In addition, the technology removes the need for external access ladders on the turbines, reducing the amount of steel required in the structure and provides further potential for cost reduction.
The technology is patent-protected and in the final stages of development. More than 1,600 successful hoists have already been conducted at Ørsted sites as part of the testing process.
Ørsted senior vice president for offshore operations Mark Porter said, “The offshore wind sector already has a proven track record of innovation and rapid cost reduction, and we are continually looking at new technologies to enhance both the construction and maintenance of our projects. This game-changing new technology can provide a more efficient, safe and cost-effective way of transferring technicians onto offshore wind turbines.
Pict Offshore managing director Philip Taylor said, “We have hugely benefited from the experience and knowledge of Ørsted. Partnering with them has accelerated our ability to bring this new technology to market.
Pict Offshore is a spin-off from height safety innovator Limpet Technology and is based in Fife in Scotland. The development of the product commenced in 2016 and was helped by a Scottish Government innovation grant.
From 2017, prototypes of the system were tested at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s 7-MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Scotland.
Although the system was initially developed to assist technicians transferring between boats and access ladders in increased wave heights, Ørsted has worked with Pict Offshore to further develop the product, ultimately removing the need for boat landings and ladders altogether and allowing the vessel to push directly onto the turbine.
Currently, a CTV will ‘push on’ to the transition piece of the turbine, before the technician steps from the bow of the vessel onto a ladder and climbs up the transition piece onto the turbine platform.
As offshore windfarms are built further out to sea, helicopters are increasingly being used to transfer personnel to and from turbines. The benefits of using helicopters are that accessibility is not limited by wave height, however helicopters cannot be used for around 25% of troubleshooting tasks and are much more expensive than using CTVs to move personnel.
Using motion-compensated gangways allows technicians to walk directly onto the base of a turbine, or offshore structure, from a vessel via a gangway that uses a laser system to compensate for any motion from the sea, enabling a steady course. While these systems also avoid the need for boat landing and ladder, they can only be used on large service operation vessels and are not applicable on all sites.
The Get Up Safe (GUS) system allows for access to a turbine with no boat landing or ladder from any-sized CTV.