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1679313600000 | Press Release

EnBW and the DLR present research project on the use of transport drones for wind farms at the Offshore Drone Forum #2

Call to enter the Offshore Drone Challenge // High-caliber jury from the worlds of business and science
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Landing of a drone on an offshore wind turbine

Stuttgart/Amsterdam. As part of Amsterdam Drone Week 2023, one of the most important industry events in Europe, EnBW is presenting its research project on the use of transport drones in the maintenance of offshore wind farms and calling on drone manufacturers and service providers to enter the “Offshore Drone Challenge.” To this end, in conjunction with its project partner, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the company is inviting people to attend the second edition of the “Offshore Drone Forum.”

The Offshore Drone Forum #2 is taking place on the second day of the event, 22 March 2023, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on the conference grounds in the congress center (Elicium room 1, near hall 12). It is an open format, which means that people can attend the entire event or simply turn up for individual elements based on their areas of interest. Here is the link to the program and registration process.

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Research project in conjunction with the German Aerospace Center

The research project on the use of drones for the offshore wind industry is being conducted by EnBW together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and other industry partners. The “Upcoming Drones Wind Farm” (UDW) 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 identify the conditions and steps necessary for running drone operations, initially for transporting materials and eventually also passengers.

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Using drones for offshore operations

Compared to the logistics options used to date – mainly ships and helicopters – offshore 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 journeys by helicopter. 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 expected drone operating costs are also considerably lower than those associated with helicopters because drones ultimately have a high potential for automation and also require less maintenance. This makes them ideal for offshore use.

Among other things, the research project aims to establish how offshore wind farms must be equipped to enable the use of drones. How does a landing pad need to be designed, what form should a transport container take and what might the communication interfaces look like? At Amsterdam Drone Week 2023, all participants will be given the specific conditions of entry for the challenge for the first time.

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Strengthening the network and boosting innovation

The EnBW Offshore Drone Forum #2 examines the entire subject from the perspectives of technical and commercial feasibility, regulatory requirements and potential business models for this application. Due to the considerable success of this new kind of forum at WindEnergy Hamburg last September, there will be a new edition of the industry-focused dialog event at Amsterdam Drone Week 2023, enabling stakeholders involved in technology, business, science and regulation to get together, discuss matters and take advantage of synergies. The forum brings together the different perspectives of the offshore wind industry and drone specialists and discusses the suitability of this application for developing the drone industry. “Together with our partner the DLR, we will use the forum to discuss the framework conditions that appear particularly promising for the use of transport drones in offshore wind energy and, above all, give practical examples of applications,” says Diana van den Bergh from EnBW, who is hosting the forum: “Our aim is to strengthen the network among the players and boost innovation.”

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High-caliber jury featuring representatives from science and business

In summer 2024, drone manufacturers are invited 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 turbine.” The tests will show the extent to which the task can already be accomplished and identify its critical aspects. These tests and entries will be reviewed and evaluated by an expert jury. This jury is currently being assembled and is made up of high-level representatives from the fields of aviation, insurance, UAM and wind energy. 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 aims to be climate neutral by 2035. www.enbw.com

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).

About the German Aerospace Center (DLR)

DLR is the Federal Republic of Germany's research centre for aeronautics and space. DLR conducts research and development activities in the fields of aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation. The German Space Agency at DLR plans and implements the national space programme on behalf of the federal government. Two DLR project management agencies oversee funding programmes and support knowledge transfer.

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