The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) has developed a new system for wind farm operations and maintenance (O&M) that will significantly cut down maintenance costs.

O&M accounts for approximately 25% of offshore wind farms costs. The new system uses information from Essent/RWE, which collects and analyses data from offshore wind farms, and is also used in order to continuously enhance the cost-reducing strategy for operations and maintenance.

The cost of O&M for offshore wind farms is around €0.03 a kWh of electricity.

ECN Wind business development Glen Donnelly said that these costs can be decreased by a third in the space of ten years.

Wind farms produce large volume of data that will be collected by technicians and engineers.

The data relates to areas like breakdowns, repairs and spare parts that may be required, engineer reports and the loads placed on the turbines and how long different components will last.

All this information is collected within the O&M system and organised for fast processing.

Donnelly said that this information will enable wind farm operators to, for example, plan precisely how many working boats will be required, how many people need to be in the maintenance team, what components should be kept in stock and when maintenance must be scheduled.

Mainly, the system allows a long-run process of continuous cost saving improvements over the wind farms operating lifetime.

"The system allows a long-run process of continuous cost saving improvements over the wind farms operating lifetime."

"In view of the predicted growth in offshore wind energy in the years ahead, cost reductions are of major importance," Donnelly said.

"If you can build up a long term and smart database of operational data and are able to analyse it quickly and effectively, you have invaluable information for a sophisticated O&M strategy."

This new system has been developed as part of the Flow programme that aims to achieve cost reductions for large offshore wind farms and stimulate Dutch companies to innovate in this sector.

RWE Innogy project manager Niels Bijkersma said, "Thanks to our years of experience managing and maintaining offshore wind farms in the United Kingdom, we can contribute to ECN’s advanced O&M system, designed to meet the needs of cost-conscious operators."

Image: ECN announces new O&M system for cutting down cost of offshore wind farm. Photo: courtesy of Essent/RWE