Advancing Offshore Wind: An interview with Dr R.V. Ahilan, Group Director Renewables Advisory & Energy Technology, LOC-Group

Advancing Offshore Wind: An interview with Dr R.V. Ahilan, Group Director Renewables Advisory & Energy Technology, LOC-Group

LOC Group recently announced a partnership with marine energy research and consultancy association WavEC Offshore Renewables in which LOC is to provide expertise on the complete lifecycle of offshore wind development, from project blueprint to operation. The company is looking to develop its consultancy offering for offshore renewables, having worked on over two thirds of all European offshore wind farms and currently involved with 60 offshore wind projects with a variety of clients. The partnership with WavEC is aimed at pooling LOC’s expertise in offshore technology, resource measurement and O&M, amongst other areas, with WavEC’s research and analysis capabilities, with an emphasis on floating offshore wind. This in turn will help to benefit the wind industry as a whole.

REM talked to RV Ahilan, Group Director of Renewables Advisory and Energy Technology at LOC, to find out more.

How does the UK offshore sector look at the moment and how would you assess its future potential?

I think it is looking good. The UK continues to produce the largest amount of electricity from offshore wind of any nation in the world and we are pressing forward now with new floating technologies as well. I consider the UK’s immediate future to be good in this regard, but I also expect it to be overtaken by other countries and continents in the longer term in terms of capacity and technology as these countries realise the wisdom of investing in in offshore power stations.

What is the main aim behind this partnership with WavEC?

The main aim is to provide frontier technology for floating wind. To do this, we will be drawing on a combination of LOC’s heritage and long-established marine expertise and WavEC’s first-hand operations of marine energy production from wave energy and its design expertise in ocean energy arrays. We are cementing a relationship that started with our marine warranty survey provision and WavEC’s engineering and analysis support for WindFloat.

Where else does LOC operate besides the UK?

The LOC Group as a whole operates across the world’s major energy centres, with offices strategically located in Europe, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. This global presence allows us to deliver cutting edge marine technical expertise to offshore wind developers across the globe, especially in the emerging offshore markets of Asia. In particular, since undertaking our first renewable energy project in 2002, we have built on our oil and gas and maritime expertise to expand our renewables capabilities to the point where we have now provided services to more than two thirds of Europe’s offshore wind farms.

Which markets in the world would you say have the most potential for your services?

We are well established in Europe where to date most of the offshore wind development has taken place. But we are looking forward to rapid expansion in Asia and in the US. In the short term, we see massive potential in France’s offshore wind market, but in the longer term, and subject to the political climate, the US will likely become another key area of focus for us. An especially interesting area of work for LOC maybe floating wind in the Mediterranean Sea, as waves here are relatively small and winds can be high and persistent.

What technological innovations and developments do you expect to see in, say, five years’ time?

We expect to see floating wind taking a commercial hold. Turbine technologies and yard fabrications at scale will both make big strides forward. Up to now innovation has focused mainly at the turbine level, and while we expect this to continue, we also anticipate a lot of the focus to shift towards technologies that improve wind farms as a whole. Electrical transmission will see increasing innovation to accommodate the inevitable move towards high voltage and high current transmission as bigger and bigger turbines are built on floating platforms, further from the coast.

Anything else you would like to mention?

A few years ago the big push was for the integrated design of foundations and turbines. Somehow, contracting strategies and sequences did not allow for the optimisation of this aspect as much as an engineer might have liked. But I think we’re now starting to see that process gain greater ground, and this optimisation effort is being extended to include installation. This is a practical development that I welcome as an engineer, and a technical development that will help cost competitiveness across the market and further benefit the offshore wind industry.

LOC is a leading international marine and engineering consultancy and survey company, founded in 1979, and headquartered in London. The company employs 400 staff in more than 30 offices across 15 countries around the world. The company provides consultancy to the shipping and energy industries. Its shipping consultancy includes marine casualty work, accident investigation, claims, disputes & litigation and surveys, while its energy consultancy, encompassing offshore oil and gas, and renewable energy, includes marine warranty surveys, loss prevention, inspections, audits as well as marine and transportation consultancy.

The company is now the market-leading Marine Warranty Survey (MWS) service provider and sits on the MWS advisory panel to the Joint Rig Committee of underwriters. It delivers MWS services on behalf of underwriters, their assureds, the assured’s contractors, or for self-insured clients and acts as an independent third-party technical review and approval of high value and/or high risk marine construction and transportation project operations, from the planning stages through to the physical execution.

For additional information:

LOC Group

WavEC Offshore Renewables (WavEC)

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