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Wind Farm Asset Management: A Day in the Life
Our wind farm asset manager, Bojan Jevtic, on the importance of wind farm site safety visits and how they are conducted.
Bojan holds a BEng from Belgrade University and an MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems from Edinburgh University. He joined Locogen in 2011, working in the development team on planning applications and wind resource assessments. He then moved into the wind farm asset management team, helping to develop the service and provide expert support and advice to Locogen clients.
Why are site safety visits important for wind farm asset management?
Site visits are a core element of our asset management for wind farms service. They help Locogen and our customers demonstrate compliance with the Health & Safety Work Act, and the Electricity Safety, Quality & Continuity Regulations (ESQCR). Visits also contribute to wind turbine and safety performance improvements. For me, conducting regular site visits improves my understanding of any current issues, allowing me to communicate more effectively with customers and contractors. I’m also often seen as the eyes and the ears of the customer and the central point for wind farm communication, so it’s vital that I can clearly explain the status of the site or any issues to wind farm stakeholders.
Tell us how you plan for a site visit
The week before the site visit I review all recent site safety information and wind turbine performance related issues. I note down the additional points that I want to include in the standard site inspection. For example, the service lift in the turbine isn’t working, so I want to catch up with the site techs to understand the real problem and status.
I plan my site visits with wind turbine maintenance and non-standard site works in mind. I scheduled my last site visit with a civil contractor starting new drainage works on the wind farm road near turbine two. I have been planning this work for a while and sent all safety induction and permit information to the contractor in advance. I need to be sure that the contractor has all safety information prior to me kicking-off the work.
The night before the visit I gather all required spare materials, such as HV – danger of death signs and underground cable warning signs. Locogen are wind turbine asset owners and wind farm operators, so we understand the importance of active site safety management and compliance with ESQCR. Also, with a two-hour drive ahead of me, I don’t want to turn up without easy quick fixes.
Talk us through what you do on the day of the site visit
In the morning of the site visit I have one last look over the site SCADA, then I’m in the Locogen 4x4 for 7:30am and prepare myself for the drive. On site arrival, I call our operations team to notify them that I’m taking wind farm access. At this point I go straight into site inspection mode from the main wind farm gate. I start by looking over the condition of the safety signs and access security. I review the condition of the wind farm civil works first then move onto security, safety and performance of all wind farm assets, including the collector substation.
I ask to meet up with the wind turbine maintenance team during my site visits. Speaking with the team about performance and safety issues is key to understanding any underlying issues. For me, the best way to engage with the maintenance team is through a collaborative and honest approach. I try to keep my engagement accessible & informative, but I understand that I need to be more formal during Wind Turbine Safety Rules (WTSRs) or general safety inspections.
Before any contractor starts with non-standard site work, such as site drainage work, I take them through the formal site induction and highlight any particular hazards that are present with their work. Again, I look to be informative and engaging during the induction process. I need to get my message across without staff feeling that they can’t raise any safety concerns because I’m too stiff or unapproachable. After the safety induction, I go to the work area and we talk through the approach and hazards. On final issue of the safety paperwork and setting the contractor to work, I leave the contractor to get on with the task, returning frequently to ensure all is going to plan.
During the day I complete the Locogen wind farm asset management site safety inspection sheet and add the follow-up items to the wind farm incident and issue tracker. Retaining customer confidence is a key principle to our site inspections. I’m therefore in regular contact with our customers and always provide evidence-based transparent reports for each visit.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
To begin with, the travel was demanding, but we have changed the way we work with a regional split in workloads. This has dramatically reduced travel time and days away from home. While out of the office on site visits it can be difficult to keep up with general wind farm asset management paperwork, so we are deploying online systems that will help streamline our day-to-day paperwork and improve our wind turbine performance analysis. This should reduce my overall workload and therefore give me more site time.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Working in Locogen’s wind farm asset management team with passionate professionals is very enjoyable. We have a culture of knowledge sharing within the business and it’s great to work in a team where I can take advantage of senior member support and direction. I look to deploy this knowledge sharing culture with my own projects and really enjoy bringing teams together from different backgrounds and goals.
Why is proper asset management for wind farms important for your clients?
Single wind turbines and multi-turbine wind farms represent a major investment for our clients. There are significant obligations to consider with the Health & Safety Work Act and the Electricity Safety, Quality & Continuity Regulations (ESQCR). This is in addition to quite complex grid connection agreements, maintenance contracts, performance guarantees and system monitoring. Keeping on top of all of these areas and coordinating all the various companies and stakeholders can be time-consuming and complex. Locogen’s wind farm asset management services remove the hassle and administrative overhead from clients while providing the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the asset is operating safely. The financial side is also hugely important. You can read an example from our renewable energy asset management director in our brochure on the financial impact of optimising all aspects of wind farm returns with asset management contracts.