One key conclusion of the report was that wind energy companies should “consider the merit/ feasibility of installing a back-up solution should the primary service lift be unavailable”. Another was that “In future, perhaps driven by taller turbine towers, operators could see two systems installed to have redundancy in powered access systems”. A third conclusion was to “consider a review of the various industry standards for fall arrest systems, reflecting on any recent developments or potential to improve these through integrating best practice on training.”
As the supplier of the world’s best climb assist systems, which also happen to be the world’s best fall arrest devices, we found these points particularly interesting. In the context of multi-million Pound turbines, we think that the provision of a high quality powered ladder access system will not only make technicians safer and less stressed, but will also lead to productivity benefits and cost savings for operators.
We were interested to read in a Report titled "Optimised Tower Design for Increased Hub Heights" that "Data from the Fraunhofer IWES Wind Monitor showed that in 2013, 33% of all new turbines installed in Europe had hub heights in the range of 120-140 metres" and that "In mountainous regions, where winds are naturally stronger at height, 80% of turbines constructed in 2013 were in excess of 120 metres." The April 2017 ORE Catapult report “Helicopter Crew Transfer at Westermost Rough” mentions that the use of a helicopter for technician transfer helicopter was partly justified by the fact that the service lifts were inoperable during the period of maintenance work and that the technicians would otherwise have had to climb the access ladders. If the cost of helicopter charters can be justified over a short period as a result of service lift unavailability, we believe that installing dedicated access systems will be a much more cost effective solution.
We hope to engage proactively with the wind energy industry on this topic and will be writing more on the subject soon.