Offshore wind energy specialist Ørsted is the first offshore wind company in the world to use autonomous giant drones to transport cargo to wind turbines at sea.
Building on previous experience with smaller drones in other countries, Ørsted is now trialling the 58kg drones, which have a wingspan of 2.6 metres and can carry loads of up to 68kg, in the UK.
Using these drones to deliver freight to Ørsted’s Hornsea 1 wind farm will save costs and time, as well as improve operational safety and efficiency, according to the energy company.
Drones mean fewer work interruptions because the turbines do not have to be shut down when the cargo is delivered. They avoid risks and make work at the wind farm safer. They also require less shipping, which reduces CO2 emissions and the impact of climate change. Instead, the drones are operated from the Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) and Service Operating Vessels (SOVs) already on site.
Ørsted has been using smaller drones for lighter loads for some time and says it is now leading the industry in terms of larger scale deployment. The company is actively seeking partnerships with the best drone freight operators and service providers to support the expansion of its supply chain in the UK.
“At Ørsted, we want to use our leading position in the industry to drive innovation that reduces costs and maximises efficiency and safety in the offshore wind sector. Delivering cargo by drone is an important step in this direction. We believe that the UK can be the first country to commercially deploy this system in offshore wind farms and become a global leader,” says Mikkel Haugaard Windolf, who leads the project for Ørsted’s offshore logistics team.