Marine growth on an offshore wind turbine (OWT) presents major structural lifetime and safety challenges to operators and maintenance workers. From the CWT developmental programme has emerged an anti-fouling system (“SAFESTEP”) which solves this problem by deterring new marine growth on structures, ensuring optimal and safe operation.

Currently, the preferred route for removing the biofouling on access ladders is to undertake periodic, manual, pressure-jet cleaning from diesel-powered marine vessels. However, biofouling can start to gather on the ladder again within days of the cleaning process being completed. Wind turbines are being located further from shore, making it increasingly difficult to maintain these ladders.

Targeted at these OWT access ladders, our new “SAFESTEP” product has been designed as an easy-fit solution to attach safely to access ladders’ rungs, eliminating biofouling and reducing costs and time in the maintenance of offshore wind turbines.

Environmentally friendly design

It is widely understood that chemical anti-fouling compounds have an adverse effect on non-target marine organisms due to their high persistence and toxicity. This has led to widespread restrictions in their use. Therefore, removal of biofouling in OWTs is undertaken predominantly using high power water jets. The process is costly and requires prolonged deployment of diesel-powered marine vessels.

Our SAFESTEP system is considered to be the only non-toxic, zero carbon-emission technique capable of keeping OWT structures free from biofouling. Conservative estimates suggest that when compared with the use of marine vessels to clean near-shore wind farms, SAFESTEP offers a reduction in GHG emissions of >11 tonnes of CO2 per access ladder over a 10-year period.

Built for increased safety

Climbing and vessel transfers to slippery access ladders presents a significant hazard to the maintenance crews and periodic cleaning allows fouling to build up between visits. Installing a SAFESTEP system maintains the access ladders in the best possible condition for use 100% of the time.

Workers climbing access ladders must use the ladder rungs in line with recommended practice for working at height. The new SAFESTEP anti-fouling technology does not interfere with the use of the ladder as per recommended practice.

Easy installation

The SAFESTEP system can be installed during wind turbine normal operation, with no shutdown required. The flexible mounting system ensures that it can be fitted to any size of access ladder. The easy- to-use mounting system can be fitted by a single, harnessed worker in just a few minutes.

Remote System Control

The SAFESTEP signal generator includes connectivity to permit remote power control of the system, performance analysis and diagnosis. Connectivity may be established with the system through the easy-to-use web-based SAFESTEP application

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