Article - March 23, 2022

Ensuring Safety and Efficiency on a Far-shore Wind Farm

Wind farm at sea

At offshore wind farms, the weather can be extreme, and conditions change rapidly. A global wind turbine manufacturing and service company uses the StormGeo portal to plan maintenance schedules and ensure the safety of every crew member when out at sea.

In a remote far-shore location in the North Sea, where wave heights can reach 10 meters and wind speeds can top 24 m/s, an offshore wind farm powers close to 400,000 homes with clean and sustainable energy. All turbines, installed and operated by a trusted and knowledgeable wind engineering company, require regular maintenance. As access and work on these turbines must be carefully planned, the company relies on StormGeo for logistics planning and safety.

Using Custom Thresholds in Their Forecasts

At the wind farm, the company is responsible for ensuring the turbines continue to supply clean, renewable energy to the electrical grid. To do this, the company needs access to the turbines whenever weather permits. This requires extremely accurate weather forecasting.

When one of the turbines needs visiting, the company’s technicians access it with service operation vessels (SOVs) or helicopters. To ensure safe access, the company has specific safety thresholds. For their boats, the most important is significant wave height, having a maximum safe limit of two meters. When landing, just 20 centimeters can make a big difference.

To make planning simple, StormGeo provides the client team with four forecasts per day by email and includes a simple-to-use portal that the team can refer to at any time. The portal’s dashboard is customized to the client’s needs, with a full display of graphs and maps showing current and forecasted weather, as well as a traffic-light color-coding system adjusted to local thresholds and parameters.

Weather risk assessment dashboard

The operations team uses the daily forecasts every morning to decide how many teams to send out and when they need to bring them back to stay within their thresholds. In nearly five years, they have never had a situation where they had to leave anyone on the turbine but have gotten everyone safely back on the vessel.

Live Forecasting for Safer Operations

The StormGeo dashboard is also an essential tool for the service teams when they are out on a turbine. Certain tasks require specific weather thresholds. When onsite, the technicians can check these thresholds and plan a job accordingly. Craning up to a turbine from the outside, for example, needs calm weather. The dashboard tells a technician exactly when that weather window will arrive.

If the weather turns or lightning is expected, the team gets a warning. This gives them time to move into the turbine’s safe zone. As soon as the storm has passed, information sent by StormGeo lets the team know that conditions are safe, and they can move back out.

Optimizing Resources in a Challenging Environment

When working offshore, good weather is a precious resource. With accurate forecasts, the client team can ensure they are ready to go as soon as a weather window opens. This improves efficiency, ensuring the turbines are well-maintained and operating costs are kept down.

For long-term planning and tasks that require more logistics, external stakeholders, and higher costs, the client team defines special thresholds and uses StormGeo’s long-term forecasts and trend analyses to decide when to complete the work.

Long range planner

The team also makes use of an additional service supplied through the StormGeo portal: 24/7 meteorologist support. If the client team is in doubt, they can call StormGeo’s meteorologists to get a better understanding. They can also call if the conditions they are seeing are slightly different than expected, to explain what they are seeing on the ground. This information helps StormGeo improve future forecasts.

Helping the Client Provide Better Customer Service

Each day, the wind engineering company works to ensure the reliability of the turbines so that the people who rely on its energy have a steady and unbroken flow of electricity. With StormGeo, the company can do so while their technicians are safe – both physically and mentally.