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The stormy North Sea is the birthplace of a complete value chain for floating offshore wind

Norwegian companies in the value chain work together to make offshore wind viable – both technologically and financially

Offshore wind technology has more in common with offshore technology than with onshore wind farms.

The North Sea has some of the harshest weather conditions in the world, with ice, extreme cold and powerful storms.

Drawing upon Norway’s extensive maritime and offshore experience from the North Sea, Norwegian companies are very well positioned to deliver offshore wind technology worldwide.

Collaboration is critical to success

Acknowledging that they are stronger together than alone, the companies in Norway’s value chain work together and with international partners to make floating offshore wind (FOW) technologically and financially viable.

Norway has excelled in FOW because of our experience offshore. The competition is fierce, but we strive to find ways to work together so that FOW can be successful.

Rune Reinertsen, CCO, Origo Solutions

Floating offshore wind was pioneered in Norway and that does not just include the first floating turbine. There are hundreds of Norwegian companies in the value chain, delivering everything from physical equipment to digital solutions and a wide array of services.

Delivering cutting-edge technology from A–Z

Developing, building, operating and maintaining offshore wind farms is an extremely complex task, requiring niche expertise and a wide array of specialised equipment and components, much of which is still being developed.

Not only that, expensive equipment needs to be installed in some of the harshest and most unpredictable conditions in the world. Norway offers a broad range of solutions to meet these challenges.

A one-stop shop for offshore wind

One of the leading Norwegian offshore wind suppliers is Saga Subsea. “We build highly customised tools and our expertise is invaluable,” says Einar Tollaksvik, Managing Director of Saga Subsea.

Yellow machine for underwater inspection
ROV for underwater inspection

Making use decades of offshore experience to provide robust, tailormade solutions for the future of renewable energy, the company makes a wide range of equipment used in the installation and inspection of FOW. In addition, its experienced consultants lend their unique expertise to industry players.

Powerful shock absorbers and heave compensators

Imagine the danger of lifting heavy cargo in a raging sea. With time, money, and safety all on the line, you need equipment you can really trust.

Installing an offshore wind farm is a highly complex job and there are many challenges to tackle, from pile runs and snap loads to weather windows and costs. Cranemaster's powerful shock absorbers and heave compensators protect cranes, equipment, and personnel from excessive loads in the most demanding offshore conditions, making operations safer and easier.

According to the company, it is poised for further growth. “Because floating offshore wind turbines are placed in deeper waters, it makes the demand for our product even greater,” says Mente Baak, Business Development Manager at Cranemaster.

Not only is it safer, it is also more cost-effective and yields a lighter carbon footprint than traditional operations.

Once turbines are in place and a wind farm is up and running, finding the most efficient way to harness the data to optimise operations is key.

All-in-one data collection

Origo Solutions is streamlining the data collection process with SCADA+. “I call it a vacuum cleaner of data. It vacuums all the other subsystems and categorises all the data and systemises it into one interface,” says Rune Reinertsen, COO of Origo Solutions.

“With SCADA+, operators are creating better logistics when it comes to supply vessels. Better logistics means less emissions,” says Reinersten.

SCADA+ compiles comprehensive data into a single, user-friendly interface that provides a total overview of everything from an individual turbine to an entire wind farm. The Norwegian company’s solution is slashing costs and emissions and greatly increasing safety and efficiency in offshore wind.

Keeping personnel and equipment safe offshore

Working far offshore, where the winds are strong and the waves are massive, can be dangerous and unpredictable. Keeping costly equipment and people safe is the top priority for Uptime International. Uptime’s “Walk to Work” is an intelligent gangway system that provides safe transfer of both personnel and cargo from vessels to floating wind turbines – and back again.

The system doesn’t need any additional support from vessels, cranes, baskets or even swing ropes that were used in the past.

Hugo Øyen, SVP Sales and Marketing, Uptime International

Uptime’s autonomous, motion-compensated gangway is safe, emission-free and cost-effective and can be installed on any type of offshore vessel.

“When you can improve the docking, the transfer of personnel and cargo, by even just a couple of minutes, it adds up to a lot of time saved in one year,” says Øyen. Of course, saving time also means saving money.

Reducing risk and preventing explosions with sensors

Ex-tech Group delivers the world’s smallest sensors for hazardous areas on offshore wind farms. The wireless microsensors are attached to assets such as cables, pipes and high voltage fuses, even in difficult-to-reach places with small surface areas.

“Monitoring, inspections and proper maintenance are crucial to reducing risk. It’s surprising, then, that inspections are still being done manually. Technology can help do the job much better. We know that explosions occur that could have been avoided. Our sensors detect problems on wind farms that are undetectable to the naked eye,” says Jan Holm, CEO of Ex-tech Group.

Ex-tech microsensors automatically inspect equipment, 24/7, reducing the time spent on periodic manual inspections. Alerts are sent immediately to the wind farm technicians, who can then check if the equipment needs a simple replacement or if a dangerous situation is brewing.

“Wind farms will save thousands of hours in labour and millions of dollars in costs from this benefit alone,” explains Holm.

Challenges for the future

There is a pressing need for renewable energy and offshore wind will have a key role in the future energy mix.

Stepping up offshore wind production will require increased installed capacity and we will see projects moving into deeper waters, which will create numerous logistical challenges.

Moreover, as more and more players become involved in the value chain, both in Norway and internationally, collaboration and knowledge sharing will be critical. There are many opportunities to be grasped, but success will depend in part on the willingness of companies and countries to join forces and push the industry to new heights.