Project certification should be a part of every wind project, both onshore and offshore, regardless of whether it is mandatory according to national rules and regulations.
Why? Banks and insurers will have more comfort in your project, giving you less of a hard time and probably better conditions – contingencies or rates. And any potential buyer can rely on the fact that the asset he is about to buy is built according to good and recognized offshore wind industry standards. At the same time, key risks are third-party reviewed by the certifying agency, increasing project quality and risk mitigation. In short, it is confirmed and approved what you buy or sell.
Certification is sometimes seen as annoying and an unnecessary cost, especially when it is not mandatory by law. Furthermore, a Project Certifier opposing, asking technical documentation questions, and insisting on processes being followed, is, by some, translated to a party without stakes in the project flexing their muscles and simply making things unreasonably difficult.
New markets are evolving rapidly and may still need to adapt requirements for certification activities. However, given that Project Certification supplies de-risking, Developers will here benefit more in those markets than in mature markets if project certification is applied.
Project certification revolves around evaluating wind farm structures and elements in relation to site-specific conditions as a base case. An independent third party conducts a documentation review of site data, conceptual design, and detailed design. Furthermore, on-site evaluations of the execution phases related to manufacturing, transport & installation, and commissioning are carried out.
The Project Certifier’s ultimate task is to verify that structural integrity is fulfilled and that the wind farm follows project certification standards, i.e., international standards like IECRE OD-502 - the predominant international project certification scheme. When necessary, the process is combined with national requirements, for example, BSH standards in German waters or demands from ClassNK in Japan.
Optimal project certification is supported through the early involvement of a Project Certifier when designs are based on raw concepts that are yet to be detailed to fulfil local site conditions and requirements. These requirements mainly originate from standards, but there could also be laws or contractual obligations to meet.
Enabling a Project Certifier to be part of this phase secures alignment on dependencies and boundaries. For example, this is an interpretation of site data and load calculation assumptions, which form the basis for the project. It is far cheaper and less time-consuming to meet and amend discrepancies/non-conformities in the development phase rather than in the execution phase. Furthermore, early involvement supplies added security for milestones like steel ordering and project financial close.
A prerequisite for a smooth approval process is openness and collaboration from the Project Developer, including associated designers, contractors, and subcontractors. Their goal, driven by the Project Developer, must be sending adequate and suitable quality documentation on time plus allowing necessary access to facilities and the construction site. The Project Certifier must supply equal sincerity and cooperation. Respectful communication and high-quality technical documentation are both tools required to meet project milestones at the right time.
There are several accredited Project Certifiers. Selecting the best option for a project may often be based on a criterion such as price, but this must be considered together with other factors. Although a different Project Certifier shall include a WTG Type Certificate from one Certifier, knowledge of the WTG in-house will reduce the need for sanity checks or even technical reviews. The same is the case for technical documentation. If the generic structure of this is already known from other projects and designers, the review is more likely to accommodate a condensed timeline. Access to technical knowledge for the Project Certifier is also essential to the timeline. Hence, it could be a factor if the Project Certifier’s review is conducted in-house or relies on external competencies.
Scope of work
Naver Energy suggests the following for proper Project Certification Management:
- Negotiating Contracts and Scope of Work with Certification Agencies.
- Deciding and interpreting applicable standards.
- Defining deadlines and major schedule milestones to achieve project goals.
- Engaging in planning meetings with Contractors, Packages and Certification Agencies.
- Following up on deliverables being sent on time.
- Engaging in regular status meetings internally and externally.
- Appoint a responsible for exchanging documents and comments between Certification Agencies and Packages/Contractors.
- Setting up meetings to clarify any significant and urgent issues which may arise.
- Ensuring alignment between approved records and as-built documentation.
- Regular and clear communication of status to project owners, internal stakeholders and external parties.