Reliable compressed air, a critical component in offshore maintenance of submerged wave energy converter

December 21, 2021

  • Customer challenge: to safely move the 3000-ton panel of a submerged wave energy converter to shore for maintenance, in between tides and in potentially rough seas

  • Our solution: state-of-the-art compressor package with built-in redundancy, feeding a custom-made buoyancy device to tow the panel to shore

  • The result: successful completion and over 2 days saved thanks to additional power module solution during maintenance

Imagine: you need to tow a large and expensive piece of high-tech equipment to shore for maintenance. The only thing keeping the 3000-ton unit from plummeting to the sea floor is a bubble of air supplied by an offshore compressor rig. On top of that, the timing has to be perfect to complete the maneuver during the narrow window between the tides. Under these specific and highly unique circumstances, speed and reliability are not just optional extras. They are factors that can make or break your business! That’s why Aw-Energy Oy entrusted the task of supporting this complex, critical, and atypical maintenance operation to Atlas Copco Specialty Rental. And we’re proud to have pulled it off – literally – with flying colors. 

Clean, continuous energy: a world’s first in renewable wave power

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal’s west coast is regularly pounded by strong waves and heavy seas. An incredibly powerful and virtually infinite source of energy which Aw-Energy’s innovative WaveRoller® devices convert into clean electricity. The wave farm off the coast of Porto Peniche is the first commercial project of its kind in the world. So needless to say, a lot was “riding” on its success. And also needless to say, Atlas Copco Specialty Rental is proud to have been chosen as a partner of the project from the beginning. 

Complicated maintenance: an innovative compressed air application

Compressor installation
Aw-Energy’s submerged wave energy converters consist of large, hinged panels which move with the surge of oncoming waves and subsequently drive adjacent turbines which convert that energy into electricity. Each of these panels weighs approximately 3000 tons, which makes any kind of manipulation complex, especially in rough seas. In this particular case, before the panels can be towed to shore for maintenance, they must first be floated to the surface using a custom-made buoyancy device. And this device, in turn, needs to be fed by a continuous supply of clean, dry air.

Built-in redundancy: a comprehensive solution

It goes without saying that any interruption to the air supply to these buoyancy devices can spell disaster. And while our reputation for reliable offshore operations is well known, it makes good business sense to always come with a back-up plan. Which is why our customer opted to include a second XAHS186 compressor and pressure-reducing valves in their package.

Total solution, total service: expert technical support

State-of-the-art equipment is one thing. But especially in such a critical context, it’s the expert operation that can make the difference. Our technicians worked for a total of 60 hours in preparing and executing the project, and monitored the system minute by minute during the critical phase at sea. And the fact that our technicians also happened to be seasoned sailors themselves turned out to be more than just an added bonus. 

A grand finale and an encore: extra time savings for an extra satisfied customer

Our customer was satisfied with the performance of our equipment but above all with our professionalism in supporting this complex operation to a successful conclusion. As well as ensuring the safe passage of the WaveRoller® panel, I’m also pleased to say we were able to help accelerate the maintenance works themselves, by supplying extra lighting, portable power, and service support on shore.

Claudio Marques

Indeed, the combination of our XAHS 186 and QAS 100 power modules, fuel storage tank, and HiLight B5+ lighting unit meant that our customer could work around the clock. Reducing what would normally have been a 3-day operation into a 16-hour turnaround project and generating even more cost savings for Aw-Energy. 

A textbook example of how we are always looking for new ways to make agility count at Atlas Copco Specialty Rental!  

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At Atlas Copco, we have been turning industrial ideas into business-critical benefits since 1873. By listening to our customers and knowing their needs, we deliver value and innovate with the future in mind.

Great ideas reinforce sustainable development. At Atlas Copco Specialty Rental, we team up with our customers to set up state-of-the-art temporary air, flow, steam and nitrogen solutions. Our passionate experts have extensive application and equipment knowledge. We understand our customers' needs and can provide a total solution for any industry, no matter if it is for emergencies or planned projects. We are a division of the Power Technique business area, headquartered in Boom, Belgium and offer specialty rental solutions under several brands around the globe.