Asset integrity is the key to maximising return on investment in offshore wind.
Worldwide, there are nearly 100 major offshore wind projects identified as live or due to go live in the next three years according to the Energy & Industries Council. The maintenance costs alone for these projects are forecast to be more than $20bn over the next 20 years.
Experiences from the offshore oil and gas sector show that reality can be very different when it comes to balancing the cost and time pressures associated with major projects. In practice the focus, particularly when completion deadlines draw near, is to minimise capital cost, complete on time, adopt minimum specification to meet minimum contract/commissioning requirements, minimise any penalty costs, and “just get the project signed off”! All perfectly valid in the right context; but the flip side is a legacy of unnecessarily high opex costs required to sustain asset integrity for the lifetime of the asset.
Achieving Asset Integrity
In order to minimise life cycle costs, several aspects of opex costs need to be considered during the front end engineering design (FEED) stage of the asset life cycle, as part of a holistic through-life approach to asset integrity management.
These include: technical design, operability, maintenance strategy, productivity management and contracting strategy.
Where we have applied this process to offshore energy assets, we have found that there is typically an opportunity to improve costs by up to 30%.
These savings typically arise from:
- Optimising design for enhanced reliability and reduced maintenance requirements
- Optimising maintenance plans through a reliability-based analysis and ensuring maximum use of condition-monitoring techniques to address unavoidable failure modes
- Increased efficiency of maintenance work execution through integrated logistics, optimised work planning using norms, aligned contract incentivisation
- Reduced labour and material costs through optimal procurement strategies.
By applying a structured benchmarking process, we find that the key areas for optimisation improvement can be identified, while bringing an appropriate governance regime which will ensure stakeholders and investment partners are adequately informed.
The required transformation programme can be implemented and sustainable savings achieved.
- Paul Stapleton is head of Energy at EC Harris and Ian Kennedy is a partner at EC Harris