TAS put to the test

Houlder's TAS system in action on 'Coastal Knight' Houlder's TAS system in action on 'Coastal Knight'
Industry Database

UK based Houlder’s TAS (Turbine Access System) has taken a step closer to meeting operator requirements by completing a trial period within the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme on the Vattenfall’s Thanet windfarm, Kent.

The system has been installed on CWind’s Coastal Knight 20t composite crew transfer vessel throughout June 2014. During this time it was used by Vattenfall technicians to transfer – enabling secure access to the turbine from a fixed position.

The OWA is a joint industry programme aiming to reduce the cost of offshore wind by 10% for UK Round 3 sites, with one of its areas of activity focussed on supporting the offshore wind industry in providing safe, reliable personnel transfer in the future. Marc Costa Ros, manager from the Carbon Trust, said “Sea trials are a very important input for the OWA Performance Evaluation assessment, since they provide raw data to validate our current R&D hypothesis and results.” Carbon Trust’s OWA has been responsible for collecting the vessel performance data during the trial.

Peter Jorgensen, Managing Director, CWind said: “Safe transfer will continue to be one of the key concerns for our industry. We were delighted to be able to support the Carbon Trust’s OWA programme and work together with Houlder, Vattenfall and others on this important project.”

This latest set of trials has demonstrated the importance of successful integration between vessel and chosen access system. The height of the TAS was considered carefully in regards to visibility from the bridge. TAS’s weight, despite being well within the Coastal Knight cargo capability was assessed in regard to its impact on transit speed and fuel consumption. The biggest impact was on sea keeping performance while the Coastal Knight engaged with the turbine.

Rupert Hare, Houlder’s Chief Executive Officer commented “We always knew providing safe and reliable access would involve more than developing a standalone piece of equipment. Through our work with CWind, Vattenfall and the Carbon Trust we’ve learned a lot about how TAS and the vessel interact and the impact on smaller, lighter vessels in particular.”

The  Offshore Wind Accelerator  (OWA) is Carbon Trust's flagship collaborative RD&D programme. Set up in 2008, the OWA is a joint industry project, involving nine offshore wind developers with 77% (36GW) of the UK's licensed capacity, which aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind by 10% by 2015. Cost reduction is achieved through innovation.

Since 2009, when the OWA ran an international competition for new access system designs for deeper waters, the OWA has been supporting the development of novel vessels, transfer systems and motherhips that are able to operate in rougher sea states. These will allow offshore wind farms to be built in deeper water, further from shore.

By Jake Frith

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