In this #Cables19 blog, Andrew Lloyd, Director of Cables at Global Offshore, details the emerging needs for a comprehensive approach to cable maintenance, repair and replacement, as offshore wind markets mature and grow across the world. Andrew will be speaking at Cables 2019 in Aberdeen at the end of October, register to attend here.
Earlier this year, Global Marine Group (GMG), supported by its business units Global Offshore, Global Marine and CWind, signed a framework agreement for cable repair with offshore wind farm developer and operator Ørsted through the Atlantic Cable Maintenance Agreement (ACMA). This is an entirely new way of working for the offshore renewables industry, although an approach which has been tried and tested with huge success over several decades within the telecoms sector, and is believed to set the blueprint for the future of combined cable and subsea asset agreements, bringing about benefits for everyone across multiple industries.
This approach also integrates many of the supplementary services related to cable installation and maintenance as well as pre-mobilised vessels and pre-engineered repair scenario planning. Wrapping support together in this way makes the process much more convenient for operators via a single service provider which seems to be the preferred approach for many in the industry. In-situ repairs to rectify faults within the confined space of each affected turbine, temporary power for both planned and unplanned power outages, logistics and personnel, plus cable pull-in teams, termination and testing can be delivered to support the main cable works delivering a turnkey solution for installation as well as ongoing O&M.
Another driver within offshore wind in the UK is the government initiative to bring all greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050. The UK has taken a lead role in the development of key low-carbon technologies and has become the largest market for offshore wind in the world, driving down costs through deployment and innovation. Meeting this ambitious target could see increased electrification within things such as transport and heating, and therefore according to a report published by the Committee on Climate Change in May 2019, a doubling of electricity demand, with all power produced from low-carbon sources compared to 50% today. That could require 75 GW of offshore wind in 2050 requiring 7,500 turbines, compared to 8 GW today and 30 GW targeted by the Government's sector deal by 2030.
Supporting this drive are other developments in technology and engineering that deliver efficiencies for both the construction and O&M phases of a windfarm. Working in collaboration with offshore technology company Osbit, GMG has added the new PLP240 to their subsea portfolio; a pre-lay plough which offers an unrivalled single pass capability and integrates route preparation, cable laying and trenching, which is an industry first. Utilising this technology, work which would otherwise be done utilising potentially two different subsea assets and vessels in multiple passes, saves significant time, risk, money and importantly delivers towards lowering emissions and the use of fuel for the projects. This technology works in conjunction with another of the Group’s assets, the Q1400 trencher, which again offers a hybrid solution. The trencher can complete both cutting and jetting operations, and can uniquely switch between the two modes whilst at sea again delivering cost, resource and time efficiencies. Likewise, GMG has been working with a key customer to develop a hybrid propulsion surface effect ship (SES) which will offer reduced vessel time, increased operational limits, enhanced transit comfort and reduced CO2 emissions using a hybrid electric propulsion system.
Offshore wind is maturing in the UK and Europe, learning lessons from other sectors including the oil & gas and energy industries, but markets in geographical locations such as Taiwan and the US are just beginning to emerge. GMG continue to utilise Group assets, engineering expertise, a dedicated innovation team and successful project delivery to convert its extensive experience and lessons learnt in Europe into local solutions, as a catalyst to support growth and success within those emerging markets.