Stuttgart/Hamburg. EnBW will be presenting its current onshore and offshore activities at this year’s WindEnergy Hamburg 2022 and will also have a stand in the Recruiting Area. As part of its strategy, EnBW is investing heavily in the expansion of renewable energies and has set itself the goal of operating on- and offshore wind turbines with a total output of 4,000 MW by the end of 2025. Accordingly, half of its entire generation portfolio (installed output) is set to consist of renewable energies by 2025.
The “EnBW Offshore Drone Forum”
As part of the leading trade fair for the wind industry, EnBW is also bringing together experts from the wind and drone industries for the first time and using the “EnBW Offshore Drone Forum” to provide a platform for promoting dialogue between engineers, the business world, scientists and regulators. Together with high-level speakers from the industry, the “EnBW Offshore Drone Forum” will give people the opportunity to discuss how advanced air mobility technologies can be used to transport people and materials to and from offshore wind farms.
A joint research project with the DLR
A research project was launched in conjunction with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which received government funding in April 2022. Besides the DLR, other partners are involved in the research project. The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) is supervising the project as an associate partner in its role as the licensing authority for wind farms in the German EEZ (exclusive economic zone). Another partner is the Dutch wind turbine manufacturer 2-B Energy, which will contribute its expertise gained from the development of landing pads on wind turbines and share its knowledge of the air route to two-bladed wind turbines. Representatives from all partners and other high-level speakers are also sharing their expertise and experience in the discussions and dialogue at the “EnBW Offshore Drone Forum.” The research project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, is focusing on the use of transport drones in offshore wind farms. Its aim is to work out the conditions and steps necessary for running economic drone operations, initially for transporting materials and perhaps eventually also passengers.
Compared to the logistics options currently used – mainly ships and helicopters – drones offer a number of advantages in terms of costs, flexibility and, above all else, sustainability. The high speed of travel means transfers are as fast as those involving helicopters. By switching to transport drones, it would also be possible to service offshore wind farms located a long distance from the coast without the need for accommodation in the wind farm. The anticipated operating costs of drones are lower than those of helicopters because drones are less complex. This has a significant impact on the amount of maintenance work needed for the drones. It is likely that drones will become more and more automated in the future, thereby cutting operating costs. The transport of materials in particular offers considerable potential for automation. If drones are powered by green electricity, significant reductions in CO₂ emissions can be achieved in offshore O&M logistics.
The Offshore Drone Challenge
The “EnBW Offshore Drone Forum” provides the first opportunity to find out about the “Offshore Drone Challenge” (ODC), which EnBW has launched together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). There will be numerous opportunities at the event for people to chat with the team and other experts and familiarize themselves with this valuable use case.
Drone manufacturers called on to take part
Drone manufacturers are invited to enter the ODC to demonstrate their technologies for transporting heavy loads to offshore wind farms. The idea is to run test flights to replicate the simplified mission of “Transporting materials to the wind farm.” The tests are intended to show the extent to which the mission can already be accomplished and identify the critical aspects of the mission. Furthermore, the challenge will give the participating manufacturers the opportunity to prove themselves in the use case involving offshore wind energy.
Interdisciplinary thinking within a network
“The EnBW Offshore Drone Forum brings together representatives from the wind and drone industries for the first time – from our standpoint, an extremely fruitful and productive symbiosis,” says Jonas Janke, offshore expert at EnBW. “For us, it is about embracing interdisciplinary thinking within a network and creating synergies that will enable us all to take another important step toward innovation and sustainability.”
The next steps
The “EnBW Offshore Drone Forum” will give players in the drone industry initial insights into offshore wind energy. Interested parties and investors will thus get KPIs at an early stage that will aid their strategic planning, engineering teams and their own corporate communications. A top-class jury is also set to be assembled in 2022, made up of experts from the worlds of business and science. The plan is to hold the practical challenge and crown the winners in summer 2024.
About EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG
EnBW is one of the largest energy companies in Germany and Europe with around 26,000 employees. It supplies around 5.5 million customers with electricity, gas, water as well as services and products in the areas of infrastructure and energy. The installed output of renewable energies will reach 50 percent of the entire portfolio by the end of 2025. This is already having a noticeable effect on reducing CO₂ emissions, which EnBW aims to halve by 2030. EnBW is aiming for climate neutrality by 2035.
EnBW R&D is systematically exploring innovative wind energy technologies. In the SkyPower100 project (FKZ 032417A-D), the company is collaborating with SkySails to examine aspects of the commercialization of airborne wind energy. In the Nezzy2 project, EnBW is collaborating with aerodyn to explore the potential of a floating foundation with a self-aligning downwind double rotor. The Global Blockage Effect Baltic 2 project used scanning LIDAR to perform a measuring campaign and verify DNV’s wind field simulations in order to isolate the GBE from other influencing factors. The company is also involved in a large number of international Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) projects. EnBW works as a major operator with various maintenance concepts that are subject to ongoing development. Offshore Operations is constantly examining innovations for incorporation into its work processes (e.g., VR in training, robotics in inspection).