Early detection of drifting vessels and multi-use assets is essential for risk mitigation in multi-use offshore wind farms

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TKI Wind op Zee
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This is one of the conclusions of the report Risk mitigation Multi-use offshore wind farms. This report was drawn up by MARIN and commissioned by RVO and TKI Wind op Zee. 

Multi-use of wind farms (by aquaculture, passive fisheries, alternative techniques for offshore energy, shipping etc.) is gaining attention in the policy debate around offshore wind. Multi-use of wind farms arises questions regarding the risks for the users of the wind farm. The objective of the report is to create an overview of promising risk mitigating measures and to come to recommendations for further research areas to develop mitigation solutions. A second objective is to give insight into the possibilities of insurance of multi-use operations.  

The report shows some interesting conclusions:

The main risk of multi-functional use in offshore wind farms is a collision between vessels and assets due to navigational error, a technical failure of a vessel or multi-use asset such as a floating aquaculture installation. The policy framework ‘Doorvaart en medegebruik’ contains pre-conditions for safe transit and multi-use of offshore wind farms. The main preconditions are that multi-use is only allowed outside the maintenance area of wind turbines and infield cables and that transit through the windfarm is only allowed through designated corridors. Working in wind farms is only allowed during the daytime and there should be an offshore proof design of multi-use assets. These pre-conditions offer a base level of risk-mitigation.

On top of that, the report identifies several promising risk-mitigating measures:

  • Early detection of drifting vessels or multi-use assets gives more response time to take action. This will also support enforcement to reduce the number of vessels entering prohibited zones. Surveillance of wind farm and multi-use areas can be incorporated in the VTS and Coastguard or dedicated control rooms. For surveillance existing systems as radar, AIS and cameras can be used.
  • The report shows two innovative risk eliminating solutions: automatic anomaly detection and deployment of remote-control or autonomous vessels. It is expected that research on remote controlled and autonomous vessels will result in applicable solutions on relatively short notice. It is recommended to examine the possibility to join existing research initiatives that are working on the development of autonomous vessels for offshore wind farm support, maintenance and inspection.  
  • The visibility of multi-use assets can be increased by the application of systems like EPIRB. It is recommended to explore the application of these kinds of systems for multi-use installations.
  • Failure of multi-use assets can be reduced by the development of rules and regulations to design multi-use assets that can withstand harsh offshore conditions. 

Please, find out more by reading the report.