6 Alpha Associates, the strategic advisor for managing high risk offshore initiatives, has signed a long-term framework contract with TenneT, the European grid operator responsible for connecting offshore wind projects to the German electricity network.
The agreement will see 6 Alpha Associates provide complex survey and risk management advice for unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk in the marine environment, working with TenneT on over 30 new grid connections over the next 10 years.
As offshore wind and cabling projects begin to proliferate in European waters, a legacy of unexploded WWII sea mines, munitions dumps and former military testing sites poses a significant threat, both to the successful and timely delivery of these developments and to the safety of the workers and contractors operating offshore.
In light of costly UXO-related delays on a number of high-profile offshore wind projects across Europe, there is a clear and growing need for project developers and investors not only to come to terms with the nature of this risk but also to manage them in a timely, efficient and cost effective manner.
The agreement will not only see 6 Alpha assess UXO risks for all of TenneT’s on-going cable installation projects but the company will also develop pragmatic risk mitigation measures including designing UXO specific geophysical survey along key cable transmission routes and ensuring that they are accompanied by UXO sign-off certificates, warranting that prospective risks have been reduced to As Low As Reasonable Practicable (ALARP).
“We’re regularly reminded, during the course of offshore wind construction, of the sheer size and scale of the UXO challenge,” said Simon Cooke, Managing Director, 6 Alpha Associates.
“Indeed, if this is not managed correctly, the costs of dealing with UXO can escalate rapidly, as we’ve already seen on some early-stage UK and European projects. Retaining the right expertise at the early stage of a project, ensures that the risk can be reduced ALARP, thereby bringing down the potential for costly delays later in the project. Not only does this help manage and ultimately, reduce, costs for the industry, it also ensures that developers and grid operators are operating well within their health and safety legal requirements.”
Martin Petzold, Project Manager for offshore cable installation, TenneT, added, “Having worked with 6 Alpha Associates on a number of projects over the past 18 months, we have clearly seen the value added by the firm to our operations – not only in terms of project safety but also in terms of de-risking our project schedules and generating Principal Contractor confidence. We look forwards to progressing our future projects with 6 Alpha as key partner.”
6 Alpha Associates has provided specialist risk consultancy services for 75% of the UK’s Round 3 offshore wind projects, four of five French offshore renewable energy projects and a number of further developments in Dutch and German waters.
In 2014, the firm, which also provides UXO consultancy services for the onshore construction industry, was selected to co-author the CIRIA guide on offshore UXO risk management.