Operations is the management of the asset such as health and safety, control and operation of the asset including wind turbines and balance of plant, remote site monitoring, environmental monitoring, electricity sales, administration, marine operations supervision, operation of vessels and quayside infrastructure, management of spares and equipment, and other back-office tasks.
What it costs
About £11 million per annum for a 450 MW floating offshore wind farm. This includes training, onshore, and offshore logistics support and management, overheads, health and safety inspections and insurance.
Who supplies them
The owner of the wind farm typically creates a special-purpose vehicle to operate the project. This may have several shareholders, one of which is likely to take a lead role.
Operations tasks for offshore wind farms are typically provided by the majority wind farm owner.
Some aspects of wind farm operations are contracted to companies such as Deutsche Windtechnik, James Fisher Marine Services, Natural Power, and Worley.
An onshore control room provides access, via SCADA and other systems, to detailed real-time and historical data for the wind turbines, substation, met station, offshore crew, and vessels. Systems ensure that the operations duty manager knows where all personnel and vessels are located. This control room is often responsible for the monitoring of multiple sites.
Wind farms are monitored remotely on an ongoing basis using SCADA and condition monitoring systems and periodically by way of active inspections, including inspections of subsea infrastructure.
A senior authorised person (SAP) is available at all times with coordination responsibility for the switching operations of all high voltage equipment.
Review of SCADA data and prognostic condition monitoring can help to highlight preventative maintenance before failure occurs. The industry is steadily adopting more advanced data-driven approaches to maximising asset value, including the increased use of performance analytics, performance benchmarking, digital twins, and integrated digital systems.
In addition to hardware-related activity, environmental monitoring to understand the effect of the wind farm on the local environment and wildlife is also carried out.
Wind farms can be broadly categorised as operating primarily from an onshore base using CTVs for access, or from an SOV. In both cases, helicopters may also be used in addition to CTVs and SOVs.
In practice, wind farm operators adopt a flexible approach, particularly during peaks of activity. Careful planning of routine and unscheduled activities with due consideration of weather conditions and availability of spares and specialist vessels is critical.
For groups of smaller wind farms located in the same geographical area, it can be cost effective to monitor and control them all from a single operation base.