Flexible bridge offers easier access to offshore turbines

An engineering student at Strathclyde University has developed a solution to a problem that costs the offshore wind turbine industry millions of pounds each year.

Robbie Macdonald has designed a flexible bridge system to allow technicians to reach turbines in need of repair more quickly and safely. Presently, this work can be done only when waves are below 1.5m, often leading to costly production delays.

Macdonald’s gangway system could be mounted onto wind farm transfer vessels and would fit almost all types of turbine. The design, named SolidSeaTransfer, would double the maximum wave height for safe transfer to 3m and minimise the risk of crossing to the base of the turbine, potentially making large savings for the industry each year.

Macdonald started to develop his initial idea in September 2010 and has been working on it since then. It has been physically tested in a wave tank, using a scale prototype.

Macdonald is being supported in his project by Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network, a free service that provides funding and support to help the university’s students, staff and alumni commercialise their ideas and set up new companies. He is now in talks with a company with a view to potential collaboration.