Developing an offshore wind (OSW) farm does not happen overnight; in fact, it can take several years to just get started. But what components do you need to create an operating OSW farm in the United States?
We’ll go through the written support structures behind three different stages—planning, construction, and operations—that help evolve an OSW farm from a concept to a reality.
There is an immense amount of planning and preparation that must take place to receive an offshore wind commercial lease, with documentation leading the process from the very beginning. Most prominently, your organization needs to sift through tremendous amounts of data during the planning stages to assemble your Site Assessment Plan (SAP): but that is not the whole story.
Before you even agree to lease terms on an OSW farm site, you need fully-developed prerequisite resources. These could include:
- Employee handbooks
- Work instructions
- Workplace policies
- Safety instructions
- Manuals for any hardware or software
- Contact information for any hardware, software, or emergencies
- Land agreements
- Tax information
- Accounting procedures
- Environmental permits
After a lease is granted, your organization will need to have pre-survey meetings and plan for the SAP. It’s essential that your company understands what should be included in the SAP, since requirements change according to the region and scale of the project. A small project, for instance, may not have to include as much information as a larger one.
Generally, these assessments must include data on:
- Marine growth
- Water depth
- And more!
The data collection period alone can extend out to five years, demanding attentiveness and commitment from the prospective company. To perform this job correctly and ensure that you have a strategy for your SAP, you will need:
- Processes for collecting and recording data
- Methods to make data clear and easy to compare over time
- Emergency contact information
- Documentation for the safe and proper use of any hardware or software
- Contact information for the creators of the hardware or software
Finalized site assessments need to be submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), as do surveys, construction plans, and operation plans. After BOEM reviews and approves every submission from the site assessment to the Construction and Operations Plan (COP), construction can begin.
As with the planning stage, you will need to have documentation supporting each activity performed during the construction stage. This means updating or creating new paperwork to outline the proper procedures for construction specifications, personnel safety, task performance, and more.
Prior to beginning construction, you will also need to deliver your COP. Like the SAP, the COP requirements will depend on the scope of the project. It is essential to understand exactly what is required of your company, or it could cause BOEM to decline your plan—a process that takes two years. Failing to pass these environmental and technical reviews will unavoidably set you back and will result in an unnecessary loss of money and time.
Your COP and other submitted paperwork during this stage should contain documents outlining:
- Planned activities for the site
- Planned facilities for the site, both onshore and offshore
- Project Design Envelope (PDE)
- Facility Design Report (FDR), including:
- Drawings of structures
- Environmental data
- Design data
- Fabrication and Installation Report (FIR), including:
- Fabrication information
- Installation information
- Federal, state, and local permits
- Project easement
- And other relevant environmental information
Combining this collective documentation with a suite of well-developed resources helps to set the path for a smooth approval and construction process. Creating this groundwork pays dividends in the time and cost savings from the installation of the foundation, through the process of laying subsea cables, and into the operational phase of the OSW farm.
Of course, the work doesn’t end once the wind turbines are installed. Operations, including day-to-day operations, maintenance, and repairs all need to be carried out to ensure that the wind turbines, substations, cables, and other components keep working as intended.
Once operations are underway, all of your documentation should pivot in support. This includes finalizing employee handbooks and emergency contact information, but also creating brand new documents for the safe and proper use of any additional hardware, software, or transportation (such as the maintenance ships) you will be using during operations.
Organizations will base their work at a service and operations facility located onshore, monitoring performance as well as conditions near the wind turbines. This facility can also be used to ensure that the OSW farm is always adhering to government requirements, both local and federal.
Your organization needs to be up-to-date on the latest requirements and regulations, but also have a clear understanding of the potential hazards that come with operating an OSW farm. Failing to perform jobs safely can result in injury, death, and major fines. Understanding what to expect during an inspection is crucial, and documentation will help ensure you’re up to code even if an inspection is not scheduled.
In addition to outlining maintenance schedules for the wind turbines themselves, OSW farms should also have documents designed for the cables, ships, planes, cranes, and facilities essential to the operation. For each of these components, paperwork should detail what should be inspected when, what should be done if repairs are needed, and who should be contactacted if there is a major problem. Keeping ahead of the documentation and paperwork will help ensure that your OSW farm is working to the best of its ability, you are using your equipment properly, and are keeping your employees safe.
Partnering with Professional Technical Writers
No matter where an organization is in the development of an offshore wind farm, documentation is absolutely essential every step of the way. However, dealing with this amount of paperwork can lead to headaches for your team. Working with a team that understands exactly what you need, when, and has experience working with energy companies like yours, is a must.
Technical writers can help you organize and present your data, inform you when information is missing, and advise you on the next step of the process and what’s needed. This will help ensure that your SAP, COP, and other documents aren’t rejected by BOEM, reducing the expenses and project delays you may have experienced otherwise.
Do you need assistance applying for the permits, licenses, and leases to create an offshore wind farm? Or are you currently in development and need to get your documents in a row for ongoing operations? We can help with both. Get in touch with us to go over the documentation needed to help your organization do its best job possible.
Want to know how to avoid the bottlenecks in the Offshore Wind Industry? Our blog post on How to avoid the top 4 documentation bottlenecks is coming soon!
If you want to be included in an Executive Round table around the topic, please send an email to Evalyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.