A Chat with Wouter Maas, Strategy Director at Geo-Data Specialist Company: Fugro

Fugro is known as the world’s leading Geo-data specialist, collecting and analysing comprehensive information about the Earth and the structures built upon it.

A big part of what we do is Operations & Maintenance (O&M), which is all about helping offshore projects (e.g. wind farms) to function efficiently until the end of their lifetime – and beyond! From routine operations to long term asset management, our bespoke structural monitoring solutions enable real-time and continuous integrity monitoring of assets to provide early indications of fatigue or failure.

Extending the life cycle of wind farms is crucial to bring down the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE). This metric is the holy grail in the offshore wind industry – relied upon by wind farm operators to demonstrate that they can provide a financially feasible and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.
Global offshore and onshore geotechnical and survey services

What do you think makes Fugro unique?

Our experience sets us apart. We have collected Geo-data for over 60 years and counting, putting us in the strongest position to service the offshore wind market. The role of Geo-data might not be straightforward for someone outside of the industry, but it is crucial during the entire wind farm life cycle – from site characterisation through to design, installation, operations and maintenance, and decommissioning.

Not only does Geo-data help to optimise the design of a wind farm, but it places the asset in its surrounding conditions. This helps to explain and predict the asset behaviour in isolation from the natural forces in which the asset is placed.


How has Fugro evolved over the last couple of years?

Technology is rapidly advancing to protect the structural health of wind projects and, subsequently, increase the affordability of renewables.

In recent years we have invested heavily in automated data delivery to provide real-time access to data and continuous remote monitoring of assets. This can provide early indications of fatigue or failure, helping to reduce the LCOE, enhance asset performance, minimise downtime and failures, and improve safety for wind farms.

Overall, better access to real-time data will help operators and asset owners to make informed decisions and implement strategies based on the reality of the situation. This technological advancement will help to increase the speed from observation to action, improve operational efficiency, and reduce the frequency of subsea inspections.

We have also been working more closely with customers to integrate all available Geo-data – from site investigation to asset inspection and monitoring – into digital twins of their offshore assets.

This enables condition-based and preventative maintenance strategies to be implemented on a per turbine basis, maximising the total value of their asset, speeding decision-making, and extending its lifetime and value.

What can we hope to see from Fugro in the future?

We will continue to push boundaries with technology, developing remote and autonomous solutions like our uncrewed surface vessels to make the industry more efficient, safe and sustainable.

From a market perspective, we are getting really excited about the potential of floating wind, which allows the deployment of wind turbines further offshore in deeper waters where typically there is more wind. Right now, developers are making decisions around which floating wind concept to adopt, and they need to consider how they will operate and maintain these harder-to-access sites. Undoubtedly, remote monitoring will be even more important to keep the LCOE down.

With the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) predicting commercial deployment of six gigawatts of floating wind energy generation by 2030, getting ready to support these sites is a huge priority for us. Now is the time for floating wind developers to consider how they will operate and maintain their assets to optimise costs, maximise energy production and extend their asset life cycle.

Planning ahead and getting early insights into operations and maintenance will be critical to bringing down the cost of renewable energy.