Orsted has become the first offshore wind company in the world to use autonomous giant drones to transport cargo to turbines.
Building on its previous experience using smaller drones in other countries, the developer is now trialling the 58kg drones with a wingspan of 2.6 metres to transport cargo of up to 68kg, in the UK.
The use of these machines to deliver cargo to the company’s Hornsea 1 wind farm will reduce costs and time as well as improving operational safety and efficiency it said.
Drones mean less work disturbance because turbines don’t have to be shut down when cargo is delivered the company added.
Orsted said the machines avoid risk, making it safer for personnel working on the wind farm and minimise the need for multiple journeys by ship, reducing carbon emissions and climate change impacts. Instead, the drones will be operated from existing crew transfer vessels and service operating vessels already on site.
The company has used smaller drones for some time with much lighter loads and is deploying them on a larger scale, seeking partnerships with drone cargo operators and services providers to help grow the supply chain in the UK it said.
“We want to use our industry leading position to help push forward innovations that reduce costs and maximise efficiency and safety in the offshore wind sector,” said head of the project for Orsted’s offshore logistics teamMikkel Haugaard Windolf.
“Drone cargo delivery is an important step in that direction.
“We believe the UK can be the first country to commercialise this system in offshore wind farms, acting as global leaders.”