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Effective Commissioning & Hand-over from offshore wind construction to operations

The point and the nature of how the Construction team, of a Wind Park Project, hands over an asset to the Operations team is a critical one for any Asset Owner. Even when the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor is the same as the company that will be taking care of operations, there is usually a transition from one team to another. Often the people responsible for constructing the project, including commissioning, (‘Construction’) will move on to another project quickly and take all that project specific knowledge with them. In comparison, the ‘Operator’ of the asset will be preparing to accept the asset.

Among other things, the responsibilities of the Operator include managing the asset such that profit is maximized, resolving technical problems/ handed over snags and, above all, ensuring safe operations. To achieve this a smooth, thorough and well-thought-out handover process is crucial. However, seldom is an effective handover achieved.

Time and time again we have seen the same issues being seen by multiple developers. Whether it be the lack of foresight regarding maintenance to confusion over who is providing warranties on what, Construction-to-Operations handovers are often fraught and complex. This complexity not only increases cost but can also compromise safety, making it essential to find better ways of managing the handover process. To that end, Wind Energy Update staged a workshop, facilitated by Ajai Ahluwalia from Statoil, dedicated to effective handovers between construction and operations at the Offshore Wind Europe conference held in London. Attendees were asked to identify challenges, evaluate risks and propose solutions under three major headings:

• Quality, including reference to snags and/or restricted performance.

  • Warranty arrangements, including clarity on the commencement of warranties and what resources should be put in place. Consideration on when to maintain equipment during a staged handover of different systems.
  • Health and Safety (H&S), including how and when you move from the Construction team’s safety management systems to those of the Operator. This following section summarizes the main outcomes of the workshop.

Quality It is assumed that an asset shall only be handed over to an Operations team when it is ready to operate. But what does ‘ready’ mean? What level of completion should Construction be expected to achieve? What amount of remaining work is reasonable for Operations to take on? The workshop participants identified five key quality issues often encountered in the handover process:

  • While small touch-up tasks might reasonably be handed over to an operations team, issues that are operational or H&S related were not acceptable. In Operations this could lead to severe safety incidents and significant loss of revenue.
  • There is often a lack of thought going into quality-related requirements, leading to issues with interface management and, sometimes, confusion between certification and quality. This can translate into delays and loss of revenue.
  • The industry is failing to adequately log common defects and snags from past projects, which leads to the same mistakes being made time and time again. The workshop participants agreed this problem has and could come at a significant final cost.
  • Two linked problems are, first, a difficulty in finding the right balance between capital and operational expenses (CAPEX/ OPEX), and second, poor contracting strategy when it comes to Operations and Maintenance (O&M), leading to poor integration and increased costs.
  • Owner-Operators are not always ready to take over assets after works are completed and contracts are closed i.e. rather than Construction being ready to hand the asset over to Operations, are Operations actually ready to accept it. This can lead to an endless handover process and potentially affect asset management and performance.

Source: Wind Power Engineering & Development

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