A consortium headed by London Offshore Consultants (LOC Group) has been selected by the floating wind Joint Industry Project (JIP), led by Carbon Trust, to investigate the infrastructure and logistics challenges faced in the development, construc

The investigation report and recommendations, which has been commissioned by Carbon Trust and  JIP partners; DONG Energy, Engie, Eolfi, E.ON, innogy, Kyuden Mirai Energy, Statoil and Vattenfall, will help drive the commercialisation of floating wind technology.

The LOC consortium, which includes Portuguese offshore renewables consultancy WavEC and offshore geoscience and geotechnical engineering consultancy, Cathie Associates, will outline key solutions for enabling the realisation of floating offshore wind farms.

According to LOC, the report will first categorise all floating wind platform solutions currently being trialled by the industry, in order to provide recommendations for overcoming foreseeable challenges in the construction of 500 MW wind farms, regardless of the type of floating technology being used. The report will outline the essential logistics needed for the assembly, storage and construction of floating offshore wind platforms, and cover the details of dockside construction, marine transportation and installation operations.

"Port infrastructure will become absolutely critical to the successful development of floating offshore wind farms. Developers and owners will be looking for enhanced capabilities and capacities from the ports they use to support construction and maintenance," said Dr. R. V. Ahilan, group director of renewables advisory & energy technology at LOC Group with responsibility for overall delivery of the report.

"The industry needs to recognise the logistics and infrastructure of floating offshore wind will be of a much greater scale than we have today. While the number of units may remain similar, the size and footprint of floating foundations are likely to be an order of magnitude greater than hitherto, thus challenging existing infrastructure boundaries. The Carbon Trust and its partners acknowledge that this starts with a sound understanding of the process, and will include transferring knowledge from the oil and gas industry."

Miguel Lopes, head of monitoring and technology at WavEC and project manager for the study, explained: "The installation and maintenance of large floating wind farms will create a number of infrastructure and logistics challenges that go well beyond those faced by the fixed offshore wind industry today. A detailed study on the dockside and offshore operations such as this one will bring these challenges to light and help ready the industry for these developments."

LOC's report, taking into consideration all floating platform technologies, will look at the logistical and infrastructure phases of development, installation and maintenance. It will scope the need for port infrastructure and equipment and the use of different vessels types; consider the needs of different turbine technologies; and account for project dependencies that can be avoided or exploited to reduce project risks and costs. The report will also look at how floating technology changes maintenance and repair programmes, including the decision to either conduct repairs on-site or tow turbines to port.