SPARTA project launched: Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and The Crown Estate commit £850k

Catapult logoThe Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, The Crown Estate, and offshore wind farm owner/operators have today [29 January 2014] launched a major new collaboration programme aimed at improving wind turbine operational performance by increasing safety, reliability and availability, thereby cutting the cost of electricity generated from offshore wind. 

The project will create a database for sharing anonymised offshore wind farm performance and maintenance data.  Owner/operator participants will be provided with robust and reliable benchmarked data for the first time, helping to identify operational improvements and cost reduction opportunities at both company and sector-wide levels.

Initially, SPARTA will be developed for UK-based projects, but the setup is fully flexible and allows for the integration of international projects.

SPARTA was initiated in 2013 by The Crown Estate in collaboration with DNV GL and was inspired by the offshore oil industry’s long established Offshore Reliability Database known as OREDA.

ORE Catapult will fund and manage the SPARTA system in close collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Centre (NAREC).

Owner/operators Centrica, RWE, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil have already committed to support the project   by actively participating in a steering group to ensure that the key output – monthly reporting – provides valuable data which will inform future operational and maintenance decisions.

A pilot project will run until March 2015 after which a full-scale implementation of the reporting system is planned.

ORE Catapult Innovation Programmes Director Chris Hill said:

“Working in close collaboration with The Crown Estate and other key organisations in the offshore renewables sector will enable us to speed up the delivery, commercialisation and scalability of technology innovation. This will help to meet the challenges of harnessing low-carbon power from offshore wind by driving down costs and realising significant economic, social and environmental benefits.

“Building on previous projects within the ORE Catapult, the SPARTA project will, for the first time, produce benchmarking data that has real value to the industry and will contribute to reducing real costs.”

Huub den Rooijen, The Crown Estate’s head of offshore wind, welcomed the progress made to date saying:

“With the largest base of operating turbines in the world, the UK offshore wind sector has an unrivalled knowledge base to draw on. SPARTA for the first time creates a way for industry to use this to its strategic advantage, providing access to a wealth of information that will enable operators to better understand the performance of their wind farms and where there might be opportunities for cost reduction.”

Tony Lyon, Head of Renewables Operation and Maintenance at Centrica, said: 

“Centrica Energy is pleased to be a contributory member of SPARTA and believes sharing experience and understanding is key to delivery of a sustainable low carbon economy.”

SPARTA (System Performance, Availability and Reliability Trend Analysis) is the first joint project under an agreement between ORE Catapult and The Crown Estate signed in November 2013. Together, the two bodies have committed to initial development costs in excess of £850,000.

The potential benefits of SPARTA are substantial and long term:

  • Reduction in equipment failures which cost the UK offshore wind industry around £150m in 2012.

A 0.1% industry-wide improvement in availability arising as a consequence of SPARTA against the 2012 offshore wind-generated volume of 7.5TWh, could equate to an increase in income of £10m.

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