The offshore wind industry, global leader Ørsted has unveiled the use of colossal autonomous drones for cargo transportation to turbines, marking a first in the sector. Leveraging their prior experience with smaller drone technology in various regions, Ørsted is now pioneering the trial of 58kg drones, boasting an impressive wingspan of 2.6 meters, capable of ferrying loads of up to 68kg. To put it into perspective, these drones weigh as much as a large baby giraffe, with wingspans akin to an albatross.
This innovative approach, currently being tested in the UK, promises a paradigm shift in operational efficiency, safety, and cost-effectiveness for Ørsted’s Hornsea 1 windfarm. The introduction of drones translates to reduced downtime, as turbines no longer need to be halted during cargo delivery. This not only enhances operational safety but also streamlines the entire process, ultimately cutting costs and saving time.
Moreover, the implementation of drones drastically mitigates risk, creating a safer environment for the personnel operating within the wind farm. The reduction in reliance on traditional shipping methods leads to a notable decrease in carbon emissions and a positive contribution towards combating climate change. Notably, the drones will be operated from the existing fleet of crew transfer vessels (CTVs) and Service Operating Vessels (SOVs) already stationed on-site, demonstrating a seamless integration into Ørsted’s existing infrastructure.
Having previously utilized smaller drones for lighter loads, Ørsted is now taking the lead in deploying this technology on a larger scale. The company is proactively seeking collaborations with top-tier drone cargo operators and service providers to bolster the supply chain within the UK.
Mikkel Haugaard Windolf, spearheading the project for Ørsted’s offshore logistics team, emphasized, “At Ørsted, we are committed to leveraging our industry-leading position to drive innovations that not only reduce costs but also optimize efficiency and safety within the offshore wind sector. The introduction of drone cargo delivery marks a significant stride towards achieving that goal.”