The offshore renewables industry is a fast developing and highly innovative sector that makes a significant contribution to ensuring that UK targets for renewable power generation (and reduced CO2 emission) are met.
The location of marine renewable offshore wind farms has changed dramatically since the Crown Estate rounds one and two wind farm projects, which were situated in estuaries (such as the Thames) or within UK territorial waters (up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from the shore). However, as was the case with oil and gas exploration, advances in technology and knowledge have now led to permissions for round three wind farms on the UK continental shelf boundary, some 200nm from the shore and of considerable size and generation output.
As a consequence of the changing commercial environment, the type of marine craft suitable for transfer operations has changed from small day-fishing vessels, to larger purpose built catamarans with accommodation for crew. Many of these vessels now exceed 24m in length and have a proportionate increase in tonnage and operating range (up to and greater than 150nm from a safe haven). For some operators, craft now spend a period of service (in days) on station at the wind farm site, returning only when necessary to refuel/resupply/conduct a crew change.
These geographical requirements have had a significant impact on the marine qualifications required for those employed on board windfarm service and transfer vessels.
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