GOOD PAINT SAVES A LOT OF WORK
Withstand the rough North Sea climate
Every building needs maintenance. On land it is usually not a problem: put down scaffolding and get to work. At sea that’s difficult. And above all, very expensive. Therefore, the paint work gets special attention at Gemini. QA/QC coordinator Folkert Tazelaar explains why.
The coating of a construction is not the first thing people tend to see as a top priority. But with an offshore wind park that’s a different matter, quality coordinator Folkert Tazelaar explains. 'That really has to be top quality, in order to last for the entire life cycle and so keep the operational costs of the wind park as low as possible.'
A person who ensures onshore that the paintwork is in good order can benefit from that offshore for 25 years. Folkert comments: 'That is why we are extra critical during the construction work of aspects such as pre-treatment, the environmental conditions during application, the thickness of the coats and any enclosures. We look at the sustainability and durability throughout the entire life of the installations. The coatings that we use are among the best in the world, and are resistant to extreme weather conditions, maritime conditions and UV.'
Those who fail to check these aspects carefully will ultimately be presented with the bill: 'It’s far more difficult to apply coatings offshore. Plus you need specialised people for that, in Rope Access Teams. They can only apply the paints in good weather conditions. Naturally, we can’t avoid deploying them, for damage to coatings is inevitable when the OHVSs are being installed. Furthermore, the welds between the OHVS and the foundations have to be properly protected.'
WORK IN PROGRESS
Onshore in Antwerp
One of the OHVSs is equipped with a full-scale heli-deck, suitable for landing smaller and larger helicopters bringing crew and deliveries. Escorted by two tugboats, they left the Antwerp harbour on their way to the wind park.
The two OHVSs for the Gemini Wind Park are the centre of the offshore operation.They were assembled in the Hoboken wharf area of Antwerp: several storeys high,the size of an average apartment building. On the inside, all the technical equipment needed to transform the energy from the 75 turbines in each park into the 230 kV current that’s conveyed to the mainland through the export cables.
WORK IN PROGRESS
The Permit to Work system developed by Gemini is an online instrument that keeps track of every crew member working on the turbines. The status of the turbines is also visible, as well as the location of the various vessels in the area.
At Gemini, the focus is on keeping people safe and healthy, both during the construction phase as well as during O&M. The basic principle of all Health & Safety qualifications also applies to Gemini: don’t allow people to become hurt in the workplace.
Starting from that overall objective, an offshore wind park presented specific demands. The approach taken by Gemini involved an enormous number of activities. It started by dealing with all the daily tasks required for every contractor working on the project. Incident reports were reviewed and followed up, where necessary. Fortunately, no serious incidents took place during the construction phase. Each contractor must comply with Gemini’s safety regulations, even during the Operations & Maintenance phase.
All those working at Gemini Wind Park must deal with offshore survival, working at heights, and rescue and fire awareness. Everyone must be qualified in all those areas. In order to keep track of every individual worker in the wind park, a ‘Permit to Work’ methodology was developed specifically for Gemini.
A control screen displays the status of the wind turbines, the location of the vessels and the number of crew – all in real time. Ingenious new techniques were used to get the workers safely to their workplace. for example, the Walk to Work system devised by German company Ampelmann proved to be very useful for the Gemini operation. This system ultimately extended the weather window during the construction phase, increasing workability in up to 4.5 metres of significant wave height.