In a pioneering move, offshore wind firm Ørsted has initiated the use of autonomous large-scale drones to transport cargo to its wind turbines. This makes Ørsted the first company in the offshore wind sector to adopt such a measure.
The drones, which are being trialled in the UK, have a weight of 58kg and a wingspan of 2.6 metres, enabling them to carry cargo weighing up to 68kg. By using these drones for deliveries to the Hornsea 1 wind farm, Ørsted aims to cut costs, enhance operational efficiency, and improve safety. A significant benefit is that turbines no longer need to be halted during cargo deliveries. Moreover, the drones help mitigate risks for onsite personnel, reduce carbon emissions by lessening ship journeys, and contribute to minimising climate change impacts.
Instead of new infrastructure, these drones will be managed from the already present crew transfer vessels (CTVs) and Service Operating Vessels (SOVs).
While Ørsted has previously utilised smaller drones for lighter loads, the recent deployment marks a shift towards a broader scale application. The company is also on the lookout for partnerships with top drone cargo operators and service providers to expand the supply chain within the UK.
Mikkel Haugaard Windolf, who oversees the project for Ørsted’s offshore logistics team, commented on the initiative, emphasizing Ørsted's aim to drive innovation in the offshore wind sector that focuses on safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. He also expressed confidence in the UK's potential to be the frontrunner in commercialising drone cargo delivery systems for offshore wind farms.