How Vårgrønn uses Vind AI to develop sustainable offshore wind projects
CASE STUDY, OCTOBER 2023
Increasing the efficiency of development while optimizing for nature and co-existence
“We joined the expert panel because we saw exciting potential in Vind AI’s tool. We see technology as an important enabler to help us create the best possible projects as efficiently as possible. As a Norwegian developer we also want to support the growth of a strong supplier industry for offshore wind in Norway, including start-ups like Vind. Collaborating closely with Vind to advance their offshore wind tool was a win-win situation for us.”Bjørn Johansen, Engineering Manager, Vårgrønn
“Vårgrønn is one of our most forward leaning and innovative industry partners. Being an early adopter of Vind AI, their competence and feedback to Vind AI have been immensely important for pushing our technology forward.” says Helene Bøhler, CEO in Vind AI.
Vårgrønn’s needs as a growth company
As a company that develops, constructs, operates and owns offshore wind energy and infrastructure in Northern Europe together with partners, Vårgrønn needed a tool that could:
- Be applied across different markets. With a rapidly expanding project pipeline that spans England, Scotland, Norway and Ireland, and early-stage opportunities in the Baltics, Vårgrønn needs a tool that supports project development in many different countries.
- Simultaneously design projects for multiple factors. Vårgrønn is aiming to become an industry frontrunner on sustainability and wants to factor nature, fisheries, local communities and other sustainability considerations in already at the early development stage. Ideally these aspects are evaluated in conjunction with the other early-stage activities, such as park location and layout and grid connection alternatives. This ensures a holistic development process where critical items are developed in parallel and allowed to impact and influence another, rather than acting as limitations or constraints.
- Effectively supports a lean team in a rapidly growing company. Vårgrønn’s lean project development team was searching for measures which could support early-stage development of multiple projects simultaneously within the capacity limitations of the organisation. Vårgrønn decided that smart tools and solutions with built-in functionality for optimisation would be preferred. The team was looking for a tool that could do more than simply enable manual analysis.
- Facilitate information sharing across internal and external teams: Efficient information flow is essential to enable a collaborative and effective project development process. Any tool, process or software used during the early-stage design process must let the users seamlessly share information and interact with each other, while maintaining data security.
Offshore wind projects are typically developed in partnerships, which means efficient collaboration also with people external to Vårgrønn is important for the company. Being a lean organisation, Vårgrønn also works closely with consultants on their projects, making it even more important to have tools that enable efficient collaboration with external people.
Vind AI offers a new way to design offshore wind projects. The innovative Vind AI tool is developed by an expert in-house team in close collaboration with industry partners like Vårgrønn.
“Vind AI offers an industry-leading platform for offshore wind project planning and design. For us, the optimisation features that support efficient and rapidly iterative design processes are most useful. It enables us to speed up our design processes significantly..”Fredrik Kuhn, Project Manager in Vårgrønn’s Project Development team
A user-friendly platform
Vind AI’s platform is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. This makes it is easy for Vårgrønn’s fast-growing team to onboard new internal users or external consultants.
“We have been very impressed by how effectively and rapidly the Vind AI team has continued to develop their platform based on our user feedback. When using each feature of the tool now you really notice that Vind AI adopts a customer-centric approach to product development,” says Bjørn Johansen, Engineering Manager at Vårgrønn.
Multiple data and design layers in one place
Vind AI combines park design, electrical system layout design and constraint analysis. The software also contains a large collection of various data layers. The relevant layers are automatically made available in response to the geographical location of each project. The tool also allows users to import additional data layers if they want to.
Combining all of this in a single tool makes the initial design process much more efficient for the Vårgrønn team. Better decisions are reached, and the team arrives at those decisions more quickly.
“Those of us working on different aspects of the project have access to the same information at the same time,” says Fredrik Kuhn, Project Manager in Vårgrønn’s Project Development team. “This simplifies interaction between various development and maturation processes in the project. It allows parallel maturation of both technical parameters and aspects related to co-existence and sustainability and helps us assemble the key data layers for each individual project.”
For example, challenging locations are easily screened out with the tools for assessing water depth and adding various data layers.
The optimisation functionalities in Vind AI’s tool greatly improve the early-stage decision making with respect to initial park placement and layout. The Vårgrønn team can directly compare various park alternatives using the built-in comparison module. Preferred cases can be saved separately and further improved as part of the project maturation process.
“The park and array cable layout optimization features provide a great starting point for the initial energy production estimates and electrical system modelling.”Charlotte Elmelid, Leading Electrical Systems Engineer in Vårgrønn’s Project Development team
Vind AI allows simple collaboration between team members both inside Vårgrønn and with project partners. The software offers functionality for questions and comments directly in the user interface. Individual users can also develop alternatives to the existing case for comparison and analysis of changes to the project concept.
The software allows the individual user to get access to specific projects inside the software and to tailor the required permissions for each individual user on each specific project. This means information can easily be shared both with other team members or with external stakeholders who need to be informed.
Impact for Vårgrønn
- Improved sustainability risk management: With a large collection of data layers readily available in Vind AI, the Vårgrønn team can easily integrate an extensive range of sustainability factors, like biodiverse areas and fisheries, sufficiently early in the design process that they gain a real influence on the project design. Designing for sustainability at an earlier stage than in traditional offshore wind development processes supports Vårgrønn’s ambition of becoming an industry frontrunner on sustainability. With authorities across Europe giving increasing focus to sustainability in auction processes, Vårgrønn sees leading sustainability performance as a source of competitive advantage. Being a high performer on sustainability will also help Vårgrønn attract talent in a competitive labour market for offshore wind expertise.
- Significant time savings: Using the optimization functionalities in the platform, Vårgrønn experiences significant time savings in park design and constraint analysis. For example, generating a layout for an early-stage project could typically take weeks, while with Vind AI layouts can be created, analyzed and compared within hours.
- Radically improved information flow: Working efficiently with offshore wind projects requires transparency and collaboration between internal disciplines, with external consultants and with project partners. At Vårgrønn, collaboration is a core company value. With Vind AI, Vårgrønn experiences increased efficiency in collaboration and radical improvement in the information flow within the project team.
- Improved sustainability risk management.
- Significant time savings in park design and constraint analysis.
- Radically improved information flow and efficiency of collaboration within the project team.