As offshore renewable energy sector leaders push to put wind energy at the centre of a post-COVID-19 economic recovery strategy, crew transfer vessel (CTV) operators are seeking ways to reduce the risk of virus transmission while operating in confined spaces.
The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), G+ and the Workboat Association are aiming to find a way to reduce transmission risk and enable safe vessel transit for offshore wind turbine technicians, reports OffshoreWind.
Social distancing measures due to the coronavirus are forcing operators to limit CTV operations to a maximum of four passengers, rather than the usual 12 or 24, which is impacting the amount of work that can be undertaken and is affecting jobs and energy production, ORE Catapult said.
The group’s O&M Centre of Excellence is working with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), offshore wind safety group G+ and the Workboat Association to set up a cross-sector CTV innovation challenge in search of a rapid solution.
Possible options could be a partition, which can be deployed onboard the vessels and allow an increase in passenger and crew numbers.
Industry leaders in the wind sector have published a statement that highlights wind energy’s ability to play a leading role in economic recovery following the pandemic.
The statement has been signed by the major corporates in the wind sector including Vestas, Siemens Gamesa, Iberdrola, Mingyang Smart Energy, MHI Vestas, Acciona, Nordex, ReNew Power, ZF, Ørsted, Goldwind and Envision.
It calls on governments, intergovernmental bodies, and global lending institutions to put wind energy investment at the centre of their economic recovery and growth plans by taking key actions outlined in it.
It also highlights key actions policymakers can take to put investment in wind energy at the centre of economic recovery and growth plans with three overarching themes: investment for a sustainable and resilient future; an enabling environment for clean energy; and empowerment of people to drive the energy transition forward.
Global Wind Energy Council, Chief Executive, Ben Backwell commented, “The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented social and economic impact around the world, and how we recover from the crisis depends on the actions we all take over the coming months.“
We have the opportunity to ‘re-build back better,’ help kick-start sustainable economic recovery, and build the energy infrastructure of the future.
“Young people, in particular, will bear the financial, social, health and environmental costs of the stimulus plans now being designed, and carry the debt associated with this spending, so we must make sure they are able to benefit from today’s decisions.
“At the same time, governments should establish a principle of ‘no harm’ for economic stimulus spending and ensure that this does not go towards reviving fossil fuel industries which need to be phased out to achieve the energy transition and head off the threat of dangerous and irreversible climate change.”
The challenge of being able to help kick start the economy, yet maintain measures to ensure the health of workers was identified by members of the Operational Contingency initiative, established by ORE Catapult’s O&M Centre of Excellence in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
ORE Catapult, Operational Performance Director, Chris Hill commented: “Being able to operate and maintain the UK’s offshore wind fleet safely in the face of COVID-19 is essential to keep the lights on and safeguard thousands of jobs.
“It will also be vital in accelerating UK economic recovery and meeting our decarbonisation targets as we exit this crisis.
“Our operational contingency initiative has responded quickly to the unprecedented challenges we are faced with and is moving quickly to find and implement solutions in support of business continuity and the safe operation of critical clean energy infrastructure.”
Providing a solution would present a significant commercial opportunity to the organisation that comes up with it, with the potential to offer the solution to workboat operators in other industries.
G+ General Manager, Kate Harvey, commented “As offshore wind farm generation continues to be required, G+ members across the globe are looking for innovative ways to keep their workers safe.
“The G+ is hopeful that this project will uncover solutions that can ensure this and are delighted that the Workboat Association is also involved to ensure that any solutions can work in practice.”
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