From prototypes to commercial facilities, lessons learnt from oil & gas projects
Nicolas Boulet1, Jerôme Iacovella1, Garron Lees
1DORIS Engineering, Paris, France, 2Offshore Engineering Design Limited (ode), Wimbledon, UK
The last few years have been thrilling for the offshore floating wind industry, with many pilot projects being sanctioned internationally and still many more designs being developed and presented by the players of this industry.
Prototypes are being installed in several locations, hopefully with success, and will show to the world that producing renewable energy thanks to floating wind turbines is no longer sheer fiction, but is becoming a reality. Furthermore, it may be in the not-so-far future as reliable and powerful a source of renewable energy as its cousins the fixed offshore wind farms which production should reach 5,000MW/year this coming year.
However there is still a long path to success, many difficulties still remain to be overcome, many problems to be addressed, among which the difficult transition from pilot wind farms to commercial wind farms, which may prove much more tricky than it seems at first sight. Nonetheless, these difficulties must not prevent the projects developers to go forward, as they have already been encountered and overcome not only by those who developed the first fixed wind offshore wind farms, but also by other players within an industry for which these issues are at least as critical: the offshore oil and gas industry
This paper, proposed by two companies which have been present both in the oil and gas and in the offshore renewable industries for many decades, will therefore present some of the bridges which have been identified between sets of issues which can be observed in both disciplines, as well as the solutions which have been developed to answer it in the oil and gas industry, sometimes several years back.
Indeed, it is one thing to develop a concept with the objective of proving that it works and can be installed on site, but the main difficulties arise when it comes to notions such as large-scale constructability, economics, long-term reliability, maintenance over several years and for dozens of units...
All those challenges have already been met and overcome by the players of the oil and gas industry, in environmental conditions and with project constraints sometimes much more demanding than those to which the current floating wind projects are subject. Some of the solutions developed in this regard will be presented, as well as their potential application to current and future projects
As a conclusion, although it is quite straightforward to put up the supposedly ageing, obsolete, outdated oil and gas industry against the young, dynamic and "with it" offshore renewables industry, actually many similarities exist between those two distant relations, and in order to continue its quick and substantial growth, the latter could not afford to ignore all the developments and technological or industrial breakthroughs achieved by the former. These achievements need of course to be adapted to this new and moving market, but make a strong basis upon which a technically sound and economically efficient floating wind industry can rely
To sum up, this paper will detail some lessons learnt from projects on which either of the two companies have been involved, whether from a design or a constructability / installation point of view, and will propose advices to the floating wind project players in order to take up the challenges which will arise during these projects' development.
These lessons learnt could only benefit the project developers and concept providers when it comes to opening up a clear horizon for the floating offshore wind industry