Case study: Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm
Inch Cape Offshore Limited (ICOL)’s proposed offshore wind farm is located in the North Sea around 15 km off the Angus coastline. The site covers an area of approximately 150 km2 and will consist of turbines supported by fixed foundations and substructures.
Connecting to the grid at the former Cockenzie Coal Power station in East Lothian, the project is currently under development and is expected to enter construction in the early 2020s.
ICOL is owned by Red Rock Power Limited, an Edinburgh-based company established to invest, develop, construct, own and operate energy projects.
When discussions began between Red Rock Power and ForeCoast® Marine early in 2018, they were in the planning phase on their offshore wind project and looking to address a distinct challenge:
To develop an optimised Operations and Maintenance (O&M) strategy
With this challenge in mind, their goals for ForeCoast® Marine were clear:
Provide an evidence base to support whole lifecycle decision making
Test different O&M strategies to find an optimised solution
Evaluate how sensitive the performance of an O&M strategy is to changes in climate.
To support Red Rock Power, we developed a detailed Gamer Mode model to represent the operational phase of the wind farm, including the turbines and their energy generation, failures in the turbines, preventative and reactive maintenance operations and the ways that these are affected by metocean conditions.
In essence, this model simulated how the wind farm would have performed under different O&M strategies (in terms of cost and programme) if it had been in operation in the past. These simulations are executed using metocean hindcast data and algorithms to represent the project operations and their dependencies on weather and sea-state conditions.
The analysis revealed a range of findings including:
The impact of vessel type, number of vessels, and seasonal working strategy on project performance (e.g. costs, turbine availability)
The range of expected outcomes for each strategy considering different probability scenarios
The key metocean and other restrictions that contribute most to weather downtime losses
The sensitivity of O&M performance to potential changes in climate.
“The use of tools like ForeCoast® Marine are essential in the evaluation of strategies for O&M. It is simply not possible to represent the complexity and interdependency of marine operations and the influence of weather in simple spreadsheet tools. Making whole-lifecycle decisions of this magnitude requires more sophisticated approaches representing high due diligence. The work we are doing with JBA is instrumental in us making informed decisions.”
David Bruce, Asset Manager, Red Rock Power Limited.
Undertaking a wide range of simulations, we considered the impact of different O&M decisions on turbine availability and cost. The variations in performance across these scenarios was considerable, and of the order of many millions of pounds.
In subsequent work, under a Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) contract, we worked with Red Rock Power to evaluate the sensitivity of O&M decisions to changes in climate. For instance, could climate change mean that the decisions we make now with respect to O&M strategies may not be optimal for the future?
Results from this work demonstrate that while changes in predicted wind and wave climate may be small, the impact on turbine availability could be significant, meaning that climate risks are real and should be considered in the offshore sector.