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Accelerating offshore wind projects with digital delivery
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Kirsty Mcguinness
Technical Director
Suzanne Burgoyne
Technical Director

Wood’s Bronywn Sutton and Alan Mortimer recently wrote about the challenges to hitting the UK’s ambitious 2030 offshore wind targets. Kirsty McGuinness and Suzanne Burgoyne propose that digital is a critical component of accelerating offshore wind delivery. Developers need to look at the complex and disconnected environmental and stakeholder data collected as an opportunity to create better wind developments faster.

The United Kingdom is heading into an unprecedented period of transition in its energy system as the demand for diversified renewable power sources gains pace.

Right  now the UK has over 2,293 offshore wind turbines in 39 operational offshore wind projects.   Those numbers will continue to increase with Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently laying out his plan to power all UK homes using offshore wind by 2030 – an ambitious and challenging target.

Delivering offshore wind projects is increasingly dependent on managing complexity, communicating risks and benefits to a broad range of decision makers and stakeholders. Providing the right evidence to get consent for a project requires vast data collection and analysis, whilst meeting ambitious programmes. Setting the digital foundations to enable this from project inception is critical to maximise value and efficiency through the project lifecycle.

We are fast approaching the final stages of the Round 4 and Scotwind offshore wind leasing processes, some of the biggest opportunities for UK offshore wind in over a decade, and the expectations set upon them are high.   To meet or exceed Government targets, developers need to be thinking now about setting these digital foundations and how they can integrate and add value to the planning, development, construction, and operation of the asset.

They need to turn complex and disconnected environmental and stakeholder data into an asset in its own right.

Data is vital to the successful delivery of complex projects, but far too often projects focus on how data is collected and used in environmental assessments, and not on how data can actually create better consents and value throughout the project.  If managed correctly, data cannot only enable greater collaboration, enhancing the ease of access to findings for all stakeholders in the consenting phase, but it can also reduce risks and improve responsiveness to change through the project life cycle by ensuring data accuracy and traceability in these early stages.

The successful delivery of an offshore wind project requires collaboration across multiple stakeholders including client teams, multidisciplinary EIA consultants, subcontractors, joint ventures, lawyers, planners, engineers, and external stakeholders. Government targets and a dash for subsidies are creating increasingly tight timelines for projects and, to stand any chance of meeting them, it is important to manage the data in a structured, intuitive, accessible, and reliable way. Access to a single source of truth is key to delivering timely consents and allowing effective transition into the pre-construction, construction, and operational phases of a project.

Through Wood’s work on many of the UK’s wind farms and other major global infrastructure projects, we have developed InfraCatalyst, a cloud-based project management platform to respond to the project and data management challenges posed by the consenting process.

Seamlessly integrating diverse project inputs, InfraCatalyst   provides a common data environment  that forms the foundation for projects right from the start, incorporating data capture and management, document control and stakeholder tools. This creates a digital data spine providing an accessible single source of truth for all project data, allowing traceability in decision-making and a collaborative place to develop and build the project through the various life cycle phases while avoiding duplication of efforts.

InfraCatalyst Graphic

Infracatalyst allows for faster consents and ultimately creates better assets and developments for the client and the wider community. How we collect our data, how we interpret it and how we technically assure it is all digital, available and traceable for the lifetime of the project. We can work collaboratively with our clients and our clients can receive live updates and tailored reporting dashboards that enable faster and more accurate risk management and decision making. We can pinpoint data to geographical location due to our integration of document management and WebGIS giving our clients and stakeholders another way to view information.

Infracatalyst enables better engagement. As well as providing greater access to the data itself, it also provides the digital foundation from which we can realise digital EIA tailored to project needs such as customizable dashboards, interactive reports, animations and visualisations bringing complex issues to life, not replacing the detail but enhancing it.

Enabling the energy transition is a global challenge and the targets for offshore wind and renewables in the UK and across the world will require solid data foundations. Embracing technology at this early stage creates greater efficiency and long-term value throughout a project allowing clients to be future ready, now.

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