£1bn savings target for offshore wind system

An example of an alternative access and working at height solution developed by Span Access Ltd.
An example of an alternative access and working at height solution developed by Span Access Ltd.

A Kinross-based firm is developing a new system to access offshore wind turbine blades which could save the European renewables industry more than £1 billion a year.

Currently repairing blade damage or installing upgrades are typically performed using rope access technicians and access platforms suspended from the turbine.

This technique is highly dependent on weather conditions and can result in lengthy downtime and lost energy production.

Span Access Solutions, which specialises in providing alternative access and working at height solutions, has developed a modular system for an enclosed habitat which connects to the main turbine tower.

This would provide a stable working environment for technicians, less reliant on good weather conditions and improve the quality of repairs.

The £830,000 Blade Access System and Working Environment (BASE) project has been backed by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

It has been developed in partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, Turner Access Ltd, Turner Iceni along with Dundee and Robert Gordon Universities.

The prototype will be tested at ORE Catapult’s 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife.

Span Access managing director Ross Turner said: “The BASE solution will be faster to deploy and more flexible to use than traditional suspended platforms and so the revenue lost from forced turbine shutdowns will be reduced.

“The BASE habitat environment is also unique.

“We’ll be able to control the temperature and humidity within the habitat, increasing the weather windows for performing maintenance and improving the quality of complex repairs that require stable environmental conditions for curing materials.”