Periodic repainting no longer required for offshore wind turbines – German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation makes an impact

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has announced that in future it will no longer be necessary to periodically renew the yellow full-surface paint covering the substructures of offshore wind turbines. The agency considers the requirements for the initial coating to be sufficient to comply with international recommendations and standards. The markings are intended to increase maritime safety. Generally, all offshore installations had until now been required to undergo inspections for damage to the paint coat and compliance with colorimetric requirements in accordance with the specifications of the Directorate-General for Waterways and Shipping (GDWS). Non-compliance with these specifications would result in mandatory repainting of the substructures concerned.

In the BMWi funded project "Implementation initiative of cost reduction potentials in offshore wind energy (UKOW)", German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation – in cooperation with industrial partners – investigated expected costs, prepared risk analyses and conducted comparative international studies. The anticipated costs for required repainting of existing offshore wind turbines in Germany were estimated at up to 400 million euros.

In addition, the foundation had the benefits of the yellow paint cover for marine traffic investigated by a DNV GL study. This study demonstrated that marking the foundations with yellow paint has a clear signalling effect only at close range, with reduced visibilities below 1,000 m and only for non-commercial vessels. Since such visibilities are relatively rare and experience shows that these boats generally do not reach the remote offshore wind farms under such conditions, the need for the signalling effect achieved by the yellow paint, and thus the proportionality of the regulation, was generally called into question in the framework of the project.

Furthermore, discussions were held with the relevant ministries, authorities, research institutions and the affected industry stakeholders and associations.

Andreas Wagner, Managing Director of the OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE Foundation commented: “We are pleased that the regulatory agencies have endorsed our findings and recommendations. This practice-informed revision of the regulations will also contribute to further cost reductions in the offshore wind energy sector.”

Wager points out that “the project has demonstrated that periodic painting would generate additional costs for the operating companies and that the proportionality with respect to increased ship safety is questionable.”