Involve O&M teams during construction and reap the rewards

25th May 2023

There are clear benefits to involving O&M teams during construction before the wind farm enters commercial operation, so why isn’t it happening more? 

Read on to find out more about this topic from our panel of experts – Mike Young from Sennen, Bob Smith formerly from London Array and Calum Hume from EDFR. 

Making the case for early involvement

Taking a proactive approach to involve all teams that will be part of the wind farm’s lifecycle will greatly benefit the overall success of the project. When the project moves from construction into operation, it can be very difficult if the O&M teams have not been involved from the outset.

Bob Smith elaborates: When a deadline is set to deliver a set of turbines, adding more personnel into the equation at the point of handover can be complicated and concerns often arise about potential delays. It’s crucial to incorporate these individuals right from the beginning when establishing the contracts. 

I think trying to retrofit on top of an existing contract is extremely difficult. Your approach to O&M and your approach to the project development needs to be baked into your contracting strategy very early on.

Bob Smith, former General Manager, London Array 

The difficulty of having multiple companies on one project

Mike Young agrees. He explains that the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is often responsible for the construction and commissioning, rather than the operator and the handover from one company to another can be challenging.

Questions arise, such as: Will they slow down the process? Can we accommodate additional personnel on the vessel or at the site? These physical complexities arise when different departments, and often different companies, are involved in an activity, and knowledge sharing is difficult. Having a strategy for this at the start of a project is hugely beneficial.

It’s sometimes those physical complications of having two different departments and/or companies involved in an activity that is problematic.

Mike Young, Senior Consultant, Sennen

Lack of resources is an issue

If the benefits are clear, why aren’t more wind farms built in this way? According to Calum Hume, one particular challenge is the scarcity of resources. As the American and Asian markets have opened up, it has become increasingly difficult to find experienced individuals to join O&M teams during the construction phase. 

Calum explains that this is important because their input is needed to shape the design of the wind farm and prepare for the O&M phase. The knowledge transfer happens during the construction and commissioning phase and it’s during this period that the construction team needs to work closely with the individuals who will be involved in the next 20 years of operations. This is when they gain first-hand knowledge about each turbine and the specific details of the layout, such as any changes in the substations or cable arrangements. These details may seem small individually but collectively make a significant impact. 

The resource pool is an issue. We urgently need to address the shortage of renewable energy skilled workers in the UK.

Calum Hume, O&M Manager, EDFR

Play the clip below to watch the full discussion on the topic of timely project involvement from offshore operation teams.

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