Step 3: Towards an agreement with the Wind Farm Operator

n the previous Step, you have prepared yourself for starting meaningful discussions with the Wind Farm Operator (WFO). Actually, this is only the start. In various meetings with the WFO you will try to establish a few things:

  • Is this WFO the party that I want to work with?
  • Is this wind farm the location that is right for me?
  • When taking all the risks and conditions for this location into account, is my Multi-Use business case still viable?
  • And, more importantly, am I still motivated to proceed with my plans? Or do I want to seek alternatives? 
  • Can we come to a reasonable, preferably win-win agreement as WFO and Multi-Use Operator (MUO)?


Step 3.1: Agreements to be made

You don’t have to detail everything out at this stage, nor do you have to agree on each detail at this stage. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended to reach an agreement on a few items that are vital as a basis for successful (future) cooperation and a successful permit application.

Step 3.1.1: Location and size: include a layout

Agree where in the wind farm you will perform your Multi-Use activity. This should include as a minimum a detailed lay-out drawing of the wind farm area with your Multi-Use Area(s) drawn in. The Multi-Use Area(s) should be clearly defined with the following parameters:

  • Area in m2
  • Coordinates of the edges (corner points)
  • Distance to the wind farm assets
  • Anticipated layout of the Multi-Use installations inside the Multi-Use Area(s)

Result of this step: A detailed and signed-off layout of your Multi-Use Area in the wind farm

Step 3.1.2 What, how and when

These are all aspects that you have prepared in Step 2.3 to Step 2.5. In your discussions with the WFO you will most likely add/change/remove aspects of this. And this is good, because it means that you are aligning on important aspects of your future cooperation. To avoid any misunderstandings in the future it is highly recommended to make a summary of these agreements that you both are comfortable with to sign off on. Of course, you can refer to the detailed documents/agreements in this summary. The summary is useful because it is a straightforward way to recap what you have discussed and agreed and you use it prepare your permit application.

As a guideline, it could be helpful to structure this summary by project life cycle phase:

  • Design
  • Procurement, manufacturing and assembly (onshore)
  • Installation offshore
  • Operation, maintenance and inspection
  • Decommissioning

Step 3.1.3: Identification and management of risks

This is considered a vital step. A common understanding of the potential risks of and for Multi-Use, suitable mitigations and who will be responsible for any residual risks. This sounds very serious and unfortunately it is. It could mean the difference between going bankrupt or not, or worse, going to jail. However, being serious doesn’t mean that you should be scared. Try to see it as an encouragement to give this plenty of attention. Be as open as possible towards the WFO about your concerns, your worries and how you intend to address those. Also, be very open for any type of observations of the WFO. This may feel annoying at times but they are much more likely to have a lot more experience with operating in the North Sea. Make good use of this experience. This will probably result in a whole list of potential issues and “points to be addressed” and yes, that wil be a challenge. However, you know now exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what you need to do to manage that in a responsible way. And the good thing is, you don’t have to do this all by yourself. Use your network, other Multi-User, the WFO and/or the government to help you to overcome this. A great many stakeholders support the concept of Multi-Use and they are willing to help you!

What you should agree on at this stage is the following:

  • The list of all relevant risks associated with your Multi-Use activities in the wind farm. Take care that this goes both ways: risk of MU to the wind farm but also risk of the wind farm operations to you as MUO.
  • For each risk on this list an agreed mitigation as well as who will implement the mitigation (if relevant). The implementation of this mitigation can of course take place at a later stage.
  • For the residual risks (i.e. remaining risk after mitigation), an agreement on who is responsible for this risk and how the residual risk will be covered. The implementation of this, again, can be done at a later stage – but always prior to the risk coming into effect. For example, the risk of a collision of a MU-maintenance ship with a wind turbine should be addressed before the operational phase and not necessarily in the design phase.
  • As an example, here a few risks associated with Multi-Use that were already highlighted and for which a mitigation is proposed:
    • Risk of impacting the ecological impact of the wind farm: try to make an assessment up-front of the potential impact of the Multi-Use activities on the presence of birds and marine life. If this presence would increase than it could impact the ecological impact studies of the wind farm.
    • Financial risk or consequential financial risk: causing damage to each other’s assets is an unfortunate event and usually can be adequately addressed with a suitable insurance. Therefore, provide to each other evidence of insurance against damage caused to each other’s assets. A insurance certificate will usually work.


Step 3.2: What is useful but can also be done at a later stage

In addition to the above minimum agreements, there are many other aspects to your future cooperation. For example:

  • Type of vessels to be used
  • Use of each other’s equipment or facilities
  • How to practically plan/align your Multi-Use activities on a daily basis
  • Communication towards the media

The more you are able to agree, the better. Nevertheless, first focus on the minimum agreements as this is important to start with your permit application in Step4. These other points you could agree on after you have submitted your permit application.


Step 3.3. Working towards a joint statement of cooperation

It is considered useful to prepare a joint statement that can be put on top of all the documents that you have prepared in the above steps. It will give context to your future cooperation and it will give you to clarify the benefits of your cooperation for yourselves as wind farm and Multi-User as well as for all the other stakeholders of the North Sea and the general public in particular. It is also a nice opportunity to highlight the positive spirit in which you as Multi-Use Operation and Wind farm operator with to cooperate in this part of our beautiful North Sea.


Results of step 3?

After these steps, you will/should have achieved:

  • a detailed and signed-off layout of your Multi-Use Area in the wind farm,
  • a signed off summary of what the Multi-Use activities will be, how they will be performed and when they will take place, and
  • a signed off list with relevant risk, their mitigations, residual risk owners and action owners.

Now get ready for your final step 4!

Go to step 4! >>

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