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ORE Catapult seeks to improve safety of offshore technicians during Covid-19

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ORE Catapult, in collaboration with the KTN, G+, and Workboat Association, is seeking a rapid solution to increase the physical separation of offshore wind turbine technicians during small vessel transit.

A new innovation call seeking a solution to increase the physical separation of technicians in the confined spaces of offshore crew transfer vessels (CTVs) during the Covid-19 pandemic was launched on 7 May, aimed at enhancing the safety of the staff needed to continue traveling to conduct wind farm inspection, maintenance, and repair.

Due to Covid-19, social distancing steps force some operators to restrict CTV operations to a maximum of four passengers, a significant reduction from the standard 12 or 24. This impacts the amount of work that can be done on a wind farm, affecting jobs, and eventually, energy production.

In response, ORE Catapult’s O&M Center of Excellence works with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), the offshore wind health and safety group G+ and the Workboat Association to establish a cross-sector CTV innovation challenge in search of a rapid solution, such as a partition, that can be implemented onboard the vessels and allow an increase in the number of passengers and crew.

The challenge was identified by members of the Operational Contingency initiative, developed in response to the Covid-19 crisis by ORE Catapult’s O&M Center of Excellence. Covid-19 presents significant challenges for the global offshore wind industry, bringing together owners of wind farms, OEMs, supply chain, membership bodies, government, and regulators to resolve key concerns and challenges.

“Being able to operate and maintain the UK’s offshore wind fleet safely in the face of Covid-19 is essential to keep the lights on and safeguard thousands of jobs. It will also be vital in accelerating UK economic recovery and meeting our decarbonization targets as we exit this crisis.

“Our Operational Contingency initiative has responded quickly to the unprecedented challenges we are faced with and is moving quickly to find and implement solutions in support of business continuity and the safe operation of critical clean energy infrastructure.”

Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s operational performance director.

“As offshore wind farm generation continues to be required, G+ members across the globe are looking for innovative ways to keep their workers safe. The G+ is hopeful that this project will uncover solutions that can ensure this and are delighted that the Workboat Association is also involved so as to ensure that any solutions are able to work in practice.”

Kate Harvey, GM of G+.

“It is within our interest to ensure that safety levels on board workboats are maintained to the highest standards at all times, whilst also working hard to increase safe pax numbers on board enabling our clients the most efficient and professional service. Together we are looking for innovations and possibilities to help us reach our ambitions.”

Kerrie Forster, chief executive of Workboat Association.
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