Innovative solutions found for offshore wind workforce during pandemic

offshore wind

As the offshore wind sector adjusts to working with increased physical separation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, G+ Global Offshore Wind Health & Safety Organisation, in partnership with ORE Catapult, KTN and the Workboat Association, has recognised five organisations for initiatives to improve operational safety.

With social distancing severely reducing the number of offshore wind turbine technicians permitted to undertake wind farm inspections, maintenance and repairs, a cross-sector crew transfer vessel (CTV) innovation challenge was launched using the KTN innovation exchange (KTN-iX) to find solutions to this pressing industry challenge.

KTN-iX matches real industry challenges from large companies to organisations, often from other sectors, who have innovative technology and can facilitate faster development of novel solutions to those challenges.

Interviews were undertaken and five companies were selected as finalists. Demonstrations are now underway with:

  • Flameskill, who offer a CTAS particle filtration head top (P3/PSL R) to protect users from solid and liquid particles and micro-organisms, helping to ensure the safety of technicians in a confined working space.
  • Entex, with its Disinfex Booth and portable disinfecting unit, which generates a dry fog of non-toxic disinfectant that kills viruses, pathogens and bacteria. The former eliminates those that might be carried by a person passing through the booth and the latter can be used inside a room or vessel cabin to completely fill the space, disinfect the environment and the surfaces within it.

Other successful respondents include:

  • Canary Sentinel, which has pioneered an early warning service for symptoms related to COVID-19 via a real-time health monitoring app.
  • Sea Sure, which has designed an air filtration and extraction hood to be fitted to seats on transfer vessels, allowing crew members to be seated in close proximity.
  • Life’s Shield, which are running a research and development project seeking to validate a UV light unit that kills viruses and pathogens almost instantly, while being safe for humans.

Commenting on the submissions, G+ General Manager Kate Harvey said:

“For offshore wind, the pandemic presents additional challenges in what is already a complex working environment. We’ve been impressed at the breadth and ingenuity shown in response to our call for proposals.

“As offshore wind capacity grows, the sector continues to work tirelessly to uphold the highest safety standards. These varying solutions will allow vital operations to be carried out in a more efficient and safe manner.”

Kerrie Forster, Chief Executive of the Workboat Association, added:

“We have been really pleased to see the large number and variety of entries into the challenge, the winners have all got something very different to offer, which if implemented in combination would provide some coordinated a versatile controls to prevent the spread of virus’s whilst travelling on board workboats.”

John Ransford, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Energy, at KTN, added:

“We were delighted with the level of responses on KTN-iX to this COVID-19 challenge. It was a crucial problem to solve for this industry, but we can also see potential for cross-over into other transport modes.

“The transfer of skills and knowledge from other sectors is a key driver for the iX platform and allows the challenge holder to explore potential solutions they might not otherwise have considered or been able to access easily. We are keen to see the results of the demonstrations.”

Mike Newman, Founder and Director of Pelergy, an offshore wind innovation and business development consultancy, added:

“Pelergy is proud to have been supporting the KTN with KTN-iX, since we piloted the programme in offshore wind in 2017. KTN-iX has once again combined the cross-industry reach of the KTN network and the specific offshore wind industry knowledge of offshore wind challengers to deliver commercially ready solutions to real problems, this time for a globally felt problem – COVID-19.

“I encourage large corporates in offshore wind with innovation challenges to take advantage of the KTN-iX programme. We can help them find commercially available solutions from great British companies, that can solve the challenge at hand.”

For further information about the innovation call, please contact