At the Scroby Sands wind farm off the east coast of England, a strategic decision has been made to internalise the operations and maintenance (O&M) of its offshore wind turbines. So when the gearboxes on three turbines were coming to the end of their working lives, Scroby Sands needed to arrange the servicing of their wind turbines without the assistance of the turbine manufacturer.
Keith Cook, Operations Manager at Scroby Sands offshore wind farm explains:
“As this was our first time for replacing a major component, there were naturally some unknown factors. It was important that things were done right and we knew we needed assistance from a good, reliable jack-up partner.”
Operations and maintenance partnership
Keith Cooke and his colleagues therefore needed an O&M partner who could provide more than just a suitable jack-up vessel. DBB Jack-Up had been approved as a supplier to E.ON, partly thanks to previous work performed by its vessel J/U WIND. The project involved a straight swap-out of the old gearboxes, but there was also time to complete some maintenance work in the tower.
He explains the process of evaluating suppliers for exchanging major wind turbine components:
“We looked at the suitability of different jack-up vessels to access our turbines, as not everyone can supply the right type of vessel. But we look at the suitability of the company as a whole, too. We consider the vessel provider’s past performance, safety record, price and, importantly, knowhow.”
He continues: “The team at DBB Jack-Up was very helpful in this respect and certainly demonstrated their knowhow. During the project, our team could really feel the experience of the DBB team. They had a great attitude and made us feel welcome on board the vessel. They explained procedures when necessary and coached us through the entire process.”
Positive improvements for increased cost efficiencies
Thorsten Jalk, CEO of DBB Jack-Up sees this project as a natural step in the evolution of wind farms:
“As we see turbines coming out of their warranty periods, wind farm owners have to consider their operations and maintenance strategies carefully. We were pleased to be able to demonstrate through our work at Scroby Sands that with the right planning and cooperation, replacing major components can be performed with minimal disruption to the wind farm’s operations.”
Keith Cooke believes it was an excellent performance by his site team and DBB Jack-Up:
“I’m very pleased with the outcome. DBB Jack-Up did everything they could in the circumstances and I can’t point to anything they could have done better.
“It was a great experience for our team, largely thanks to DBB Jack-Up’s ‘family’ on board WIND. And I think we are in a good position to make positive improvements to our internal systems and reduce downtime even more when we face similar situations in the future.”