By Pamela Largue

Enlit on the Road visited Principle Power at WindFloat Atlantic Project’s base in Viana do Castelo, Portugal, to learn why the O&M phase of a floating offshore wind project is one of the most important elements of ensuring project success.

“The operational maintenance phase of the project is the most exciting phase of the lifetime of the project. This is the phase where we ensure that the lifetime of the project is achieved with the most successful energetic output,” says Clara de Moura Santos, VP of operations and maintenance at Principle Power.

“These [floating] platforms will sit offshore for ~25 years. Ensuring that the lifetime of the project is achieved is to a large extent connected with the success of the operational phase of the project.”

De Moura Santos shares the lessons learned from WindFloat Atlantic, a project that has been operating since 2019 and is owned by the WindPlus consortium, formed by Ocean Winds (85%), Repsol and Principle Power.

The project currently provides green energy to about 25,000 homes annually.

WindFloat Atlantic is a first-of-its-kind

According to Principle Power, which provides all O&M-related support for WindFloat Atlantic, this innovative 25MW project is the first full-scale project using semi-submersible patented WindFloat technology and is also the first floating wind farm in continental Europe.

It is located ~18km off the coast of Viana do Castelo in water approximately 100m deep. It features three 8.4MW Vestas turbines installed on top of three semi-submersible WindFloat platforms. The platforms are anchored to the seabed with a catenary mooring line system.

Each triangular floating platform consists of three interconnected vertical columns, with one attached to the base of the wind turbine tower. According to Principle Power, the platforms are further stabilized with Water-Entrapment Plates (WEP) at the bottom of the three pillars. A Hull Trim System, consisting of a system of tanks filled with water, also keeps the wind turbine tower upright to optimize its performance.

O&M at WindFloat Atlantic floating offshore wind project

De Moura Santos emphasizes that all O&M-related activities, which begin once the project is commissioned, are geared toward ensuring uptime.

“We need to ensure that the turbines are spinning and generating power to the biggest extent possible.”

What makes operating and maintaining a floating offshore wind farm unique, states de Moura Santos, is that there are more parts to be maintained than a bottom-fixed offshore project, but less downtime can be afforded.

“…We need to ensure that we are efficient in planning and executing the operations in a way that no further downtime is added…Despite having a floating platform to be maintained.”

Maximizing uptime results from an effective maintenance plan that accounts for the unique constraints of performing activities offshore, in terms of quality, health and safety and complexity, de Moura Santos adds.

Pillars of operational maintenance

All maintenance activities can be split between the three pillars of maintenance, explains to de Moura Santos.

The first pillar is preventive maintenance activities that need to be conducted to ensure that equipment does not fail.

The second pillar is corrective maintenance, which needs to be conducted because, at some point, equipment is prone to failure and needs to be corrected.

The third pillar is inspections, activities that are undertaken to ensure that the structural integrity of the platform is never compromised.

Of course, all maintenance phases of the project are supported by remote monitoring, states de Moura Santos: “Remote monitoring enables us to have a look at key parameters and key aspects of the operation.”

Gathering information about how the asset is performing is critical, de Moura Santos explains, as it allows for comparing how the asset is performing and how it was designed to perform. That information enables the team to plan interventions offshore in a way that minimizes project downtime.

Exploring digitalisation

Principle Power has been actively exploring advancements like digital twin solutions. De Moura Santos suggests that implementing and these solutions will introduce great benefits to the operational phase of the projects, enabling a shift from schedule-based to risk-based inspections..

“If instead of going offshore because we have a schedule to fulfil we’re going offshore because we understand the real status of components and structure, then we will be able to plan operations in the most efficient way, ensuring the most uptime.”

Principle Power is also exploring other solutions that rely on the robotization of day-to-day activities. The large-scale pilot Atlantis Test Center in Viana do Castelo is working to increase efficiency and decrease the risk of offshore operations by demonstrating key enabling robotic technologies for the inspection and maintenance of offshore wind farms.

Originally published in Enlit World.

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