Forewind trials 'human free' met mast installation

Safer technique used at Dogger Bank

An innovative "human free" installation technique was successfully deployed during the lifting of a meteorological mast tower onto the first of Dogger Bank’s two met mast suction bucket foundations last weekend.

The technique could prove to be a significant health and safety breakthrough for the offshore wind industry. Crew that would previously have been positioned near lattice towers during installation of the 44t met mast tower remained on board the installation vessel, Brave Tern.

Plastic guide cones strapped to the tower flanges were used instead of crew members, eliminating the risk of an accident involving a swinging or falling load.

Windpower Offshore understands that the technique will soon be deployed again, during installation of a second tower on Dogger Bank’s other met mast foundation.

The new technique was developed jointly by Forewind, Fred. Olsen United and contractors involved in the project, including SeaRoc, which designed the 93m towers.

Commenting on the successful experiment, Forewind general manager, Lee Clarke, described the human free technique as an example "of the potential safety and efficiency gains to be made through developers and contractors working closely together".

In addition to reducing safety risks, the technique increases the speed of installation, according to Jan Fredrik Platou, health, safety and environmental quality manager for Fred. Olsen United. This is because the "cones helped to quickly stabilise the load in the final stage of the lifting".

Forewind’s efforts to explore innovative approaches during development of the Dogger Bank zone have been supported by the Carbon Trust’s highly-regarded offshore wind accelerator programme. A consent application for the first 1.2GW of capacity within Dogger Bank is scheduled for submission to the UK Planning Inspectorate this August.