Offshore wind giant Ørsted says it’s now the first offshore wind company in the world to use autonomous giant drones to transport cargo to turbines.
Ørsted has been using smaller drones in other countries for a while, and it is now trialing the 58kg drones in the UK’s Hornsea 1 offshore wind farm. The drone size is the equivalent weight of a large baby giraffe, with the wingspan of an albatross. The drones have a wingspan of 2.6 meters and can transport cargo of up to 68kg.
The cargo is placed inside an orange bag, which is then attached to the drone using a long cord. The bag hangs far beneath the drone as it flies through the air carrying the cargo. Once the drone reaches its destination, it places the bag on a wind turbine’s platform high up in the air and releases the long cord along with the bag.
The drones will help Ørsted deliver cargo to its Hornsea 1 wind farm more efficiently and safely. The use of these drones will reduce costs and time of transportation, as well as the environmental impact.
With drones, there will be less work disturbance as turbines won’t have to be shut down during the delivery process. They will also reduce the risk, making it safer for personnel working on the wind farm. In addition, cargo drones minimize 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 (CTVs) and Service Operating Vessels (SOVs), which are already present on site.
“At Ørsted, we want to use our industry-leading position to help push forward innovations that reduce costs and maximize efficiency and safety in the offshore wind sector. Drone cargo delivery is an important step in that direction,” Mikkel Haugaard Windolf, who is heading the project for Ørsted’s offshore logistics team, said in the press release.
“We believe the UK can be the first country to commercialize this system in offshore wind farms, acting as global leaders.”