Thursday 21st November 2019
As a relatively young industry, offshore wind attracts people from a wide range of different backgrounds. Whether they’re looking for the sort of engineering challenges offshore projects provide, or the buzz of working on turbines at sea, offshore wind offers a role to suit most personalities.
To celebrate Offshore Wind Week 2019 we spoke to Paul Redpath, a Project Manager who works out of CWind headquarters in Grimsby, about his experiences working in the offshore wind industry.
What are your main roles and responsibilities at CWind?
As a Project Manager, I am responsible for overall project supervision, including client interaction, contract management, scope variation, project plan, risk management, quality control, health and safety, resourcing, finance and budgets. I also contribute to the tendering process and assist with technical proposals where needed.
How long have you worked in the industry? What did you do before working in offshore wind?
I previously served a full career in the British Army, Royal Engineers, working my way through the ranks as a Plant Operator/Mechanic and qualified Military Diving Supervisor. I gained over 20+ years’ experience deploying engineering assets globally, delivering projects on countless humanitarian, peacekeeping and war fighting tours.
On leaving the military, I spent a brief time as a Commercial Diver working offshore and inland civils before moving on to become a Mechanical & Electrical Engineer overseeing the maintenance, installation and commissioning of service forecourts.
I have now spent over three years in the offshore wind industry, working in several different roles, including Rigger, Technician, Site Manager, OIM, Operations Manager and, more recently, Project Manager. During this time I’ve gained invaluable experience in temporary power, cable pulling, bolting and balance of plant operations.
What changes have you witnessed in the industry since you started working in offshore wind?
As more and more companies enter the market, and competition for contracts increases, the focus seems to be slowly switching from installation to O&M. This is also a reflection of the industry maturing here in Europe. It’s great to see so many projects being planned in other markets around the world. The US and Taiwan, for example, are at much earlier stages in their growth, and there are some exciting opportunities in those markets both now and over the coming years.
What role do you think the UK (and UK technicians and engineers) will play in growing offshore wind and renewables globally?
Most global projects request or specify the use of local companies, but there is certainly a strong requirement for UK or European SMEs to mentor overseas suppliers and teach them best practice and safe procedures. A good example of this is our joint venture, CWind Taiwan. The CWind team here in the UK drew upon our previous experiences to help set up a new training school for local Taiwanese people, allowing them to gain the skills and knowledge needed to work offshore.
Are there any projects you’ve worked on that stand out in your memory?
Last year CWind worked on a project where we were tasked with replacing all 96 monopile transitional piece bolts on each of the wind farm’s 78 towers – the first maintenance project of its kind. The bolts eventually stretch loose over time, so we had to engineer and build a rail to cover the circumference of the flange and allow small winches to take the weight of the heavy tooling while each of the 26kg bolts were extracted and tensioned. The project was successfully completed under difficult circumstances with some invaluable lessons for us to take away and put into practice for future projects. In total, we extracted 7,488 bolts, weighing a combined total of 194,688kgs (almost 200 tonnes).
How positive is the outlook for the offshore wind industry?
The outlook across the board looks very promising. As we expand globally, more and more countries are exploring and buying into the potential of renewable wind energy. As technology advances, with the introduction of floating jackets, for example, our horizons will expand and allow for the exploration of deeper waters and larger offshore wind farms. It’s worth pointing out that all wind farms have a life span too, so as they reach the end of their operational capabilities, they will require more maintenance before ultimately being decommissioned.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in offshore wind and renewables?
Ask questions! As they say, ‘no question is a stupid question’. The offshore industry can be a dangerous environment, so knowledge, experience and understanding is key for everyone. Be industrious and show willing but, more importantly, be safe!
You can find more information on some of our recent projects by reading the case studies on our website: https://cwind.group/literature/