Increased investment in offshore wind requires Technical Due Diligence

Rob Dotchin
The UK’s offshore wind sector could power a £17.5bn investment in the UK economy over the next four years after faster than expected cost-cutting slashed subsidies for the technology by half.

The lower costs mean more wind farms will be able to apply for the government’s £294m funding pot, bringing with it the investment surge.

With the UK having the largest offshore wind capacity in the world, the boom will drive an increase in energy infrastructure; in particular turbines.

Choosing the right wind turbine is a significant task. As such, when investing in or developing major wind energy projects, clients require an understanding of technical and safety elements to mitigate risks in wind turbine procurement.

What is Technical Due Diligence?

Health and Safety Technical Due Diligence (TDD) is a process of review, examination and gathering of information about the safety characteristics of a new product (wind turbine) to enable the purchaser to make an informed assessment in advance of procuring.

Benefits of Technical Due Diligence

A wind turbine’s life-span is typically between 20-25 years, with capital cost figures reaching up to £3.5m for larger turbines. TDD helps to protect that major investment by establishing suitability of the turbine, identifying and mitigating technical risks. This is done by establishing whether manufacturers have a clear process for achieving demonstrable compliance with safety and engineering, placed on them by the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

The TDD process also investigates demonstrable compliance with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998, for which the primary objective is for the employer to ensure that work equipment is safe.

Performing Technical Due Diligence

In performing Health and Safety TDD, it’s integral to work closely with the client’s electrical, mechanical and blade specialists to be able to assess manufacturers’ compliance with machinery safety legislation or client’s technical standards.

TDD general sessions will typically cover:

  1. An introduction and overview of the wind turbine generator model(s) i.e. concepts and main components.
  2. Deep-dive session (electrical systems, hub, gearbox, towers, main bearings and blades).
  3. Design process.
  4. Top-down walkthrough of the wind turbine generator and/or production line visit.

Our approach to TDD establishes manufacturers’ processes for:

  1. Achieving demonstrable compliance with safety and engineering placed on it by the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.
  2. Achieving safety of machinery i.e. principles for design risk assessment and risk reduction and compliance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSR).
  3. Certification process (EC Declaration of Conformity and Declaration of Incorporation).

In Summary

A proactive approach to health and safety, TDD can provide reassurance of manufacturer compliance with machinery safety legislation and/or client technical standards.

By providing this integral information about the physical characteristics of a turbine, TDD enables clients to make an informed decision in advance of procuring and safeguards the major investments that are being made within offshore wind.