wind farm and ship

Nautical risk analyses boom

As nautical risk analyses experts, SSPA plays a vital role in the global transition to a more sustainable society. The growing need for carbon free energy and the thriving establishments of offshore wind farms bring into light the conflicting interests between shipping, commercial fishing, marine conservation and renewable energy production.  

— There is an international boom in applications for offshore wind power farms, says Björn Forsman, project manager at SSPA. We’ve been working on marine spatial planning and nautical safety issues since the beginning of the 1990s. Clearly this is something that is now becoming increasingly important.

As wind turbines become larger, the cost per kilowatt-hour produced is significantly reduced. From the 0,5 megawatt turbines constructed in the early 1990s, today’s standard installations include 10-12 megawatt turbines and in a few years 25 megawatt turbines are to be constructed for offshore wind farms.

— This upscaling has made wind power the cheapest option for new production of electricity, says Björn Forsman. Increased production of renewable, carbon free electricity is necessary in order to meet national and international requirements for reduced GHG-emissions.

In Sweden, many different laws and regulations have to be considered and a number of governmental and regional authorities are involved in a complex approval process, when new wind farms are to be developed. In the application process, SSPA is particularly engaged in nautical risk assessments and issues related to potential conflicts between ship traffic routing and the location and size of the wind farms. On behalf of various wind energy producers, SSPA analyses all potential nautical risks and present it together with proposals on risk mitigation measures in format intended for review and consultation with the Maritime administration, the Transport agency and other stakeholders involved.

There are quite a few overlapping interests that can create potential conflicts. A lot has to do with assessing sufficient margins between shipping lanes and the wind farm, while at the same time keeping national, commercial fishing and maritime conservation interests in mind. SSPA has an established methodology and toolbox to probe maritime traffic patterns, as well as reliable calculation programs for the probability of collisions, groundings and allitions. Traditionally offshore wind farm applications have been assessed case by case, but the current boom of applications calls for an overview of the cumulative effects on the establishment of new offshore wind farms and their interaction with ship traffic and the marine environment.