Offshore wind energy: “When in doubt, the facility now has a toilet to go” | EUROtoday

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The IG Metall union needs to implement higher situations for engaged on offshore wind farms – from primary human must rescue at sea. This is the one technique to discover sufficient expert staff for the quickly rising trade.

The offshore wind energy trade in Germany is about to develop considerably within the coming years – and with it the calls for on working situations, particularly for service technicians at sea. New wind farms, particularly within the German a part of the North Sea, are being constructed ever additional away from the coast. This raises questions – about security and occupational well being and security, and even in regards to the hygienic situations when engaged on the wind generators.

The IG Metall union needs to implement stricter guidelines for occupational security at sea. “The expansion of offshore wind energy needs better standards for safe workplaces and rapid rescue at sea,” mentioned Daniel Friedrich, district supervisor of IG Metall Coast, on Friday. There are at present round 1,600 wind generators within the German a part of the North and Baltic Seas with a complete output of 8.6 gigawatts. This output is to be expanded to 30 gigawatts by 2030 and to as much as 70 gigawatts by 2045.

“This will require significantly more personnel – especially out on the open sea. Accordingly, more measures must be taken to work safely under offshore conditions,” mentioned Friedrich. “Especially since the future wind farms will be much further away from the coast – up to 350 kilometers. This means increased demands on a rescue concept and on the working conditions in the wind farm.”

According to trade estimates, a complete of as much as 55,000 individuals will work within the offshore wind trade in 2045 – round 20,000 greater than at this time. The variety of service technicians is predicted to rise from round 1,500 at this time to as much as 4,500 within the subsequent decade, mentioned Heiko Messerschmidt, wind trade sector supervisor at IG Metall. The federal authorities has made it clear “that offshore wind farms are to be regarded as workplaces and that both the Occupational Safety Act and the Workplace Ordinance apply.” The trade associations of the offshore wind energy trade should now attain an settlement with worker representatives on how higher working situations at sea will be achieved.

IG Metall has 4 key calls for: When servicing techniques, a minimum of three individuals needs to be on the system or on a platform “in order to be able to react appropriately in the event of accidents at work and rescue activities”. In addition, the communication infrastructure should be expanded, “for example through functioning internet and transponders for employees in the wind farm”. Binding requirements needs to be outlined for the rescue groups, the union's place paper states: “This includes a centralized control center for the North and Baltic Seas with helicopters and a trained high-altitude rescue team. An emergency doctor should be with an injured person within 50 minutes – day and night.” And lastly, working hours should be standardized and in addition embody alternatives to take breaks.

Today, there are two rescue helicopters particularly for offshore wind farms in St. Peter-Ording and Norddeich. In the present system, “green” implies that the helicopter can attain an injured individual inside the required time – often inside an hour. “Yellow/orange” implies that the scenario is unclear; whether it is “red”, the helicopter can’t rescue the individual. IG Metall is demanding, amongst different issues, that the “yellow/orange” standing be abolished. In precept, the rescue system must be fully revised if offshore wind farms are constructed sooner or later as much as 350 kilometers from the coast within the furthest nook of the unique German financial zone, because the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) in Hamburg is planning. This would imply, for instance, that ships must be stationed at sea or rescue platforms with helicopters put in at sea.

Highly specialised service ships are used for the offshore wind farms within the North Sea, which at the moment are positioned as much as 100 kilometers from the mainland. The service technicians are often at sea for 2 weeks after which have two weeks off. A shift lasts twelve hours plus an hour's break, adopted by eleven hours of relaxation on the – often very well-equipped – service ship. Such ships use hydraulically operated gangways to drop the service personnel and their work supplies off on the wind generators within the morning and decide them up once more within the night. Most of the individuals engaged on the techniques are males, and to this point there have additionally been a couple of ladies.

The service workers typically sit on machine components when engaged on the wind generators. The system is shut down throughout upkeep, but it surely nonetheless sways always as a result of wind that’s blowing more often than not. There are not any retreat rooms or completely put in bogs within the machine homes greater than 100 meters above sea degree. “If in doubt, the system has a 'toilet to go',” says Dirk Oldewurtel, deputy chairman of the works council on the service firm Wind Multiplikator in Emden. This means, for instance, makeshift containers or cardboard packing containers for relieving oneself. Sometimes there are groups of a number of individuals on the system, however typically the individuals there work alone all day lengthy.