Happy Offshore Landings
Teams of specialists from Schleswig-Holstein Netz and E.ON Climate & Renewables work hand in hand to maintain our Amrumbank West offshore wind park.
Eighteen E.ON grid technicians working on the North Sea coast have come to appreciate their helicopter pilot by saying “Happy Landings!” Dieter Haack, head of distribution grid operations at SH Netz says: “We’re glad to know that our know-how is in demand not just onshore but offshore as well, namely at the Amrumbank wind farm — though we can only get there by helicopter.” E.ON — or, more precisely, E.ON Climate & Renewables (EC&R) — put the wind farm 40km north of Helgoland into operation in October of 2015.
EC&R turned over operational management, as well as some of the repair & maintenance work of the offshore wind park substation, to their sister company, Schleswig-Holstein Netz (SH Netz). SH Netz trained a special 18-person team that can be transported to the substation platform by helicopter to rectify any malfunctions as quickly as possible. In order to make sure that air travel to the platform is safe, five employees were also trained to serve as “helicopter landing officers” and “helicopter deck assistants.”
Like open heart surgery
The substation is the heart of the wind park and has 80 turbines with 302 MW of total output. Once a year, the team performs the equivalent of open-heart surgery at the facility. This happens whenever the transmission grid operator, TenneT, shuts down the grid connection for several days to allow maintenance on the converter stations, which transport power from the offshore wind parks to the mainland. The teams then need to work quickly. This year, they worked around the clock for eight days & nights in two 12-hour shifts, to carry out all repair & maintenance work along with inspections & any uncompleted work left over from the construction phase. However, everything needs to be planned in detail with close coordination & cooperation.
“We both benefit from each others’ expertise"
“Providing our services to the offshore wind industry was new for us. Working out at sea is very different from working on land — simply because you never know exactly what the weather is going to be like or even whether you’ll be able to get to the substation. Employees need both flexibility and commitment. Working at night is very demanding. But we’ve been doing this now for half a year and have learned a lot. And we were able to finish everything at the substation on time & on schedule,” says Dieter Haak, head of distribution grid operations at Schleswig-Holstein Netz.
“We are very pleased with the work processes and the close cooperation with our colleagues in general,” says Dr. Thomas Michel, who is responsible at EC&R for offshore wind park operations in Scandinavia & Germany. “We both benefit from each others’ expertise; the renewables & grid operation departments complement each other nicely. We aren’t finished yet, though: the next step will involve us increasing our joint activities for operational excellence.