Establishing an immediate approach to reduce the escalating parts, labour and supply chain bottlenecks that are a consequence of C19 is imperative now that operational wind turbines are a critical part of the global energy infrastructure.
Wind currently makes up 15 percent of EU energy supply, meaning that the Covid-19 crisis presents immediate short-term operational challenges for engineering teams, according to predictive analytics company Onyx InSight.
With regard to labour, getting crews out onto sites and maintaining peak power production, and doing this safely, is a challenge. Working restrictions have meant that not all maintenance tasks can be completed as crews need to be separated and isolated. The consequence is that many non-essential tasks are being deferred. Hence asset owners and operators are increasingly concerned about the long-term impact that a lack of planned maintenance will have on future turbine performance.
With regard to components, many wind industry suppliers are located in those countries hardest hit by C19. Factory shutdowns in places like China and Spain have constrained the supply of parts.
These two factors are further compounded by the forecast turbine parts, labour and supply chain service peak in Q2 and Q3 of 2020 – which will see demand overtake supply and may risk bringing critical energy infrastructure offline.
To avoid this anticipated wind turbine parts, labour and supply chain crunch – and to reduce the anticipated supply chain hold-ups – Onyx InSight is calling on independent operations and maintenance teams, asset managers and engineering departments to openly discuss pressures on purchasing and procurement programmes early in order to better predict and negate future maintenance bottlenecks across the industry.
“Now more than ever we believe it’s critical for asset owners and operators to come together, share experiences and collaborate, in order to maintain operational performance for critical energy infrastructure” said Bruce Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Onyx InSight. “We all have to step up at this time. During these unprecedented times, we understand and recognise the importance of being able to monitor and track, and then proactively plan and execute, wind turbine maintenance campaigns and complex engineering schedules. We also recognise that six-month planned operations and maintenance campaigns have effectively been side-lined, as we as an industry work together to combat Covid-19.”
To ensure that asset owners and operators from all around the world come together to share their experience of how to maintain peak turbine performance and tackle the looming global parts, labour and supply chain challenge, Onyx InSight has conducted a global survey of O&M leaders across the wind industry to evaluate how they are navigating the C19 crisis. These results will be presented at its invitation-only virtual roundtable and webinar on 7th and 8th April 2020.
Bruce Hall added that following a series of direct discussions with owners and operators all around the world, and having collated feedback and thinking from many key industry executives over the course of the past two weeks, the company will share some of their key insights and observations, to enable owner operators to more effectively plan and reset 2020 operations and maintenance strategy. In short, it is not just about how projects are performing now, but how they will continue to perform in the coming weeks and months.
The current exceptional situation playing out across the world can only be combated through collaboration and a wider understanding. As the renewable energy industry works hard to solve immediate challenges in the form of a significant reduction in planned maintenance, the market must also look to mitigate future power shortfall risks, as a result of unforeseen turbine downtime.