Blog

August 2019

Two updates in a month!

I’ve written my thoughts on the blackout to hit the south of England.

In the last few weeks I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the UK visiting the offshore cable installation supply chain – both installation contractors and their equipment suppliers.  The North East of England is a real hub of suppliers now, a really thriving community, it has a great feel to it.  Apart from one or two companies bucking the trend, the North East of Scotland still has a “downturn” feel to it.  Hopefully in the next few years Scotland will catch up.  With Moray, Inch Cape, and NNG offshore wind farms expecting to take off shortly then there is a real opportunity for Aberdeen, Peterhead, Montrose and Dundee areas to really benefit in the way Blyth, Newcastle and the Humber has in England.

An extremely frustrating development with the CFD auctions, a legal challenge raised by an onshore windfarm developer.  Seems a really strange move, and even stranger timing.  It’s been known for over a year that onshore wind wasn’t invited to compete, so why raise this challenge at this time?  Hopefully this will be a minor delay and the huge pipeline of offshore wind projects can move forward as planned.

Abroad for the next couple of weeks – lots of hard work ahead.

 

August 2019

Wow, August already.  Only 19wks until Christmas!  Time flies.

There has been some great news over the last couple of weeks for offshore wind projects in France – lots of projects clearing legal hurdles and the EU confirming the subsidies are above board.  Great to see this infant market starting to gain some momentum.

It’s a busy time for Alan Kelly Projects at the moment – but we are always available to support with your project no matter how big or how small.  Just get in touch.

Writing this on the train coming back down from Aberdeen.  It was lovely to meet up with great people I’ve delivered successful projects with in the past.  And the scenery on the train journey is really nice!

 

July 2019

I’m writing this travelling to Paris for work after a great two week holiday. I normally sleep (I mean work) on flights, but today I decided to flick through the in-flight magazine. One thing caught my eye, and I thought I would share:
The world’s electricity demand could be met by harnessing only 7.7percent of the solar energy absorbed by the Sahara desert.
That’s pretty amazing! Again it suggests that we really need to be doing more work on being able to store the power generated by renewables. Batteries are the future!

Xodus have been tasked with compiling a supplier database for offshore wind in Scotland. I’m not convinced that will be useful unless it is done really well. If Xodus engage with the clients / developers to understand their procurement requirements and rules and ensure suppliers already or can comply with them then maybe there is hope. But if it’s just making a list of suppliers with their contact details then it will be disappointing, and not a useful exercise.

UK CFD results are awaited with much excitement. Why do these things always take so long!

Well, I must get back to it. Get in touch if you would like to discuss how Alan Kelly Projects can support your project.

 

June 2019
I’ve written a wee article on CFD and subsidies in the UK, have a read here if you have some spare time.  Also a rant about my local football team, which is partially work related.

I’m still trying to recover after an extremely tiring weekend volunteering with a local Cub-Scout troop at the District Camp.  I was lucky enough to go to Beavers, Cubs and Scouts when I was young and found it a brilliant experience.  Being a volunteer leader is a very different experience, but just as rewarding (Although at 2am on Saturday morning when the kids still weren’t asleep it didn’t feel rewarding.  Nor did it when being eaten alive by midgies!!!).  Took me totally out of my comfort zone, was a really interesting challenge.  Back to the realities of getting an offshore wind farm to FID and beyond today though.

P.S. The heat in Paris is currently unbearable!

 

May 2019
The next CFD round has been launched in the U K. £250 million of subsidy per year- quite a commitment. I wonder how much capacity could be secured, with rumours of some developers considering extremely low bids. Unfortunately our Government has decided to cap capacity as well, at 6 GW.
Why would you do that?  Answers on a postcard please……
Its great to see progress being made on Hornsea 2 with some contracts being awarded, and construction finally starting on Scottish project Neart-Na-Goithe. That project holds special significance to me-we were pushing for the full EPCI scope when I worked for Technip Offshore Wind. I will watch this one with interest.
I recently did some interesting ad-hoc consultancy on contracting strategies in offshore wind. EPCI versus multi-contracts. Really interesting.
Some interesting players in the cable protection system market emerging. I fear with the issues on London Array it could be a painful time for this sector. However having said that, in this industry the next major problem is usually just around the corner. Maybe something else will come along and take the focus off CPS…….

 

26th February 2019
So my recent post on Linkedin really got some attention. If you missed it (how could you???) the summary is l posted the results from a poll I had ran during a presentation. It asked the audience to suggest reasons for the “high” subsea cable failure statistics that I had presented. The post got over two thousand views and a number of sensible comments (and one company MD shamelessly advertising!). A lot of the comments focussed on cost- “you get what you pay for”. Also about new players in the industry, and lack of experience.
I think the key point is we don’t know, as root cause and lessons learned aren’t shared. Worse, they are kept secret, tied up in NDA’s. And why? What’s the point? The industry needs to co-operate. We need to work together to improve. It could still be anonymous-we just need to share the info, so the failures stop. Maybe it’s something the Carbon Trust could pick up, or the ESCA?

 

10th February 2019
Work continues to be busy. I’m finalising a supply and install cable tender. Trying to communicate the requirements clearly and simply so the tenderers know what l’m looking for.

Also working on a” dynamic and interesting” presentation I’ve been asked to give.  My son suggested I wear a costume, but I don’t think that’s what my audience are looking for.

I’m writing this while flying out of London City airport. Another airport with integrated transport links. My local papers have been reporting recently of more procrastination over the rail link to Glasgow Airport. The latest idea is to consider a pod type monorail. My thoughts are just do something. A monorail or normal train will be a huge improvement over what we have just now. If Glasgow wants to be taken seriously as a business destination then a simple, integrated transport link is needed. Fast.

I recently attended an excellent talk on subsea cables. Click here to read my thoughts.

17th January 2019

The Christmas festivities seem like a distant memory as it’s back to nights away from home and lots of travel.

Complaints

In Paris this week and I had cause to complain in the hotel I’m staying in.  I hardly ever do this, I’m Scottish – so normally just tolerate the problem, and moan about it quietly under my breath.  But I couldn’t this time.  The receptionist I spoke to was less than helpful, and less than interested, making my frustration worse.  On return the next night there was a handwritten letter from the hotel manager in my room apologising, and refunding one nights stay!  “Great” I thought, initially.  But the more I thought about it the more I was disappointed.  My complaint didn’t warrant such large compensation – the manager would have been much better giving me 10% off and spending the rest of the “compensation” on training and improving his staff.  Because unless the staff change, it won’t be the last complaint he receives.  And it would have made me think he had really taken my complaint seriously, understood the problem and addressed the root cause.
How does your business deal with complaints?

Brexit

Brexit continues to rumble on, in the way a train rumbles on when driven by an incompetent driver with no clue on where the destination is, full of passengers that continually try to overthrow her.  If it wasn’t so serious it would be hilarious.  But it is serious.  Mega serious.  This affects my livelihood, and the future of my children.  Proper cross party talks would be a start, but the politics will always get in the way.  There needs to be some serious change, quickly, so we can make progress.  Projects and investments are on hold, people don’t know what the future holds and that is simply not on.  My personal opinion is, and always has been, we should stay.  But I realise that 51% of the population disagree.  Maybe they have changed their mind, having been swayed originally by wild “Leave” campaign stories, but maybe not.  There is a lot of passion and division in the UK public at the moment, and it really needs addressed.

Work

And what about work?   Well I’m busy, which is good.  Settling into my International adventure.  I’m looking forward to the coming year.

It would be great to hear what you think of the site, so please get in touch and let me know.

 

January 2019

After 1 year, 2 offshore cable installations, 1 cable removal, an onshore cable installation and an inspection/survey campaign my time with SSE came to an end in November.  I’m writing this two months later and I still have mixed emotions.  At the end of the day only a short contract extension was offered, as SSE were looking to build a permanent team to deliver their long term workscope, so staying / leaving wasn’t really my decision.  But the projects were exciting, challenging and coming along thick and fast.  It’s the role I have been most sad to leave.

However I’ve got to look to the future and since November I’ve been concentrating on providing array cable supply and installation package management services to a French offshore wind farm.

So it’s back to Renewables which I’m really happy about.  The cable supply aspect is new to me, so I’m really excited about that challenge.  It’s also the first time I’ve been involved in a project so early – over a year before FID.

Still looking to get involved in ad hoc projects so get in touch to discuss your next project.

October 2018
Still busy, looking after a geotechnical campaign which included CPT work which was another first for me.  Also working hard on finalising contracts and issuing tenders for my major client.

Renewables and offshore wind continues to go from strength to strength.  Scottish Power are now powered fully by wind, goodbye coal, gas and carbon footprint!  And both Scottish Power and SSE in the news making strong, promising statements about offshore wind – all good news.

I’ve also been speaking to some past clients and received testimonials which I am hugely proud of.

 

August 2018
So that holiday is a distant memory. Oldest son has returned to school, and youngest son running around the house like a hoodlum!
Work is busy, but reasonably calm. Picking up a few pieces of ad-hoc work which keeps me on my toes, and looking after a survey job which the end is in sight for. I’m getting exposed to more shore end and civils work which is really interesting, and quite a challenge.
I’ve been thinking about investing. Considering a 3D printer, or perhaps a drone with LIDAR equipment. Both seem to be a growing market, with reasonably low entry costs. Downside is I don’t know too much / anything about those markets – so I probably shouldn’t!

Final thing to say is a huge congratulations to Tekmar. They were my first introduction to offshore wind – gave me lots of exposure to the industry, and maintained a lot of faith in me. They have just floated on the stock exchange, and continue to go from strength to strength. Congratulations to James, Jack, Russel and the whole team, and good luck.

 

July 2018
For the first time in about 6 years I’ve just had a two week complete break. Laptop was left at home, email notifications turned off on the phone – two weeks in the sun with family – absolutely fantastic. I’ve survived my first week back (just) but it feels like I was never away!
Mobilisation for a short survey campaign is about to kick off, so I’ve been in the throws of documentation reviews this week. It’s probably the most local cable installation I will ever been involved in so that’s quite exciting.

Opportunities in offshore wind really seem to be picking up now – and if you are able to work in Taiwan or America then the world (or at least those parts of it) are your oyster! Things really gathering momentum in Scotland as well, so that’s really promising.

Feel free to get in touch to discuss how Alan Kelly Projects can assist with your project.

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11th May 2018
So the cable is laid, and pulled in at both shore ends. What a project. It was brilliant (and reasssuring) to see it all come together so well. Months of hard work, planning and engineering all led to the project being professionally executed by the contractors involved. It has been a great project to be involved in. It now moves into the onshore phase, which will see us carry out project management of overhead line improvements and the final commissioning and energisation process. Still some work to do!

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April 2018
Things are starting to get really busy now, both with my main contract and a couple of other things bubbling in the background. A replacement cable in the Orkney islands is just kicking off, after what seems like ages of planning, engineering, negotiations and challenges. I can’t wait to get onto site and see what’s going on. It’s a mini inter connector project – two shore ends, and 10km of subsea cable through some challenging seabed conditions. Some improvements to the electrical overhead line network and other electrical infrastructure are also part of the scope. So a few different contractors and different work scopes to manage – it requires really good management of the interfaces, and the scheduling is proving really challenging. Let’s hope for good weather.

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March 2018
Well after what feels like a very long winter with no operational work, things have finally got going. I’ve been involved in my first cable removal project. This was a really interesting challenge, and very different to the work I’ve done before. It was also my first involvement with a dive team in a number of years. The weather wasn’t great, but once the vessel got on site the contractor performed well.

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9th November 2017
A busy 3 months, and I’m sorry for not updating this more regularly!
Alan Kelly Projects is now providing project management services for subsea cable installation outside of the renewables industry. Two weeks into the new contract and I am finding not much has changed. Complicated beach landings, challenging burial conditions and challenging tidal flows. And a team of talented, motivated people around me. Same old story!

It’s been a busy time in the offshore renewables industry as well. The latest contracts for difference were awarded, Triton Knoll, Hornsea 2 and Moray East. Great news especially when you look at the low strike prices. The industry has made huge progress over the last few years.

Just in the last couple of days the UK Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the RSPB, meaning the Neart Na Gaoithe (NNG) windfarm can proceed. Hopefully, and surely, this is the last legal hurdle and the developers can crack on with this. Also wrapped up in this legal argument were Inch Cape and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo. But NNG has secured a subsidy contract with the UK Government, so must now surely be ready to start “digging”, assuming Mainstream has all the necessary finance in place.
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7th August 2017
At 10.40am this morning it happened. The array installation campaign was concluded. 122 cables laid and buried safely, on time, within budget and without major incident. There’s post burial protection to be carried out, due to the soil conditions, but all in all it has been a very successful campaign. It has been extremely hard work, but with a brilliant team, on our side and on the Contractor’s side it has been a job well done.
What’s next?
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4th August 2017
So there has been an interesting court case in the UK recently, regarding an offshore wind farm owner operator, and the company contracted to design, fabricate and install offshore wind turbine foundations.
The dispute was around the fact the foundation structures failed shortly after completion of the project. Remedial costs of around £26m had to be covered, but by who……?
The technical requirements issued by the owner operator stated minimum requirements which were to be taken into account, one of which was to be in accordance with a technical standard written by a recognised body of authority. Another was that the foundations would have a lifetime of 20 years. And another was that they would be “fit for purpose”
The technical standard was to be used to calculate aspects of the foundation structure. It later turned out that there was an error of a factor of 10 in the standard. And shortly after installation, the foundations started failing.

The Supreme Court ruled that the foundation design/fabricate/install company was at fault. They had failed to comply with some of the technical requirements – lifetime of 20 years and fit for purpose. Fair enough, you might say.

But they had complied with the industry standard they had been instructed to follow. Industry standards are surely best practice, or they should be. Is it fair to assume they are correct and can be relied upon? If not, then what are they for? Should an error of a factor of 10 in a calculation been spotted by the design contractor? Should it have been spotted by the end client? And what about marine warranty?

An interesting case, with ramifications for the industry. I’ve argued for a few years that there needs to be more standardisation in the industry and more regulation – but in light of this court case, I don’t see that happening.

Disclaimer: The information written on this court case is all in the public domain and the press summary can be found at this link https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0115-press-summary.pdf.
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17th July 2017
Back to work after a great weekend. Saturday was spent with some offshore challenges – trying to optimise value for money whilst trenching in extremely hard soil conditions. Does rock actually count as soil, I’m not sure!
Sunday was an uninterrupted family day, during which my 5 year old (yes, 5yr old!!!) cycled all 10.5miles around Millport. I am an extremely proud father (with an extremely tired little boy!).

The news that Telefonica has purchased JDR, and there is going to be a female Dr Who pale into insignificance compared with my son’s cycling exploits.  However, I think it’s a disappointing day for the British Offshore industry that JDR is now in foreign hands.  But it does show how far JDR have come, that they would be an attractive purchase.

Back down to site today courtesy of an early arriving British Airways flight. Mainly a paperwork day today.  And a busy week ahead.
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14th July 2017

So, that’s me completed my first week back at work, after an amazing 14 days abroad with my family. I only spent one of those days working, and didn’t spend too much time answering emails. It’s been a full two years since I had such an uninterrupted break from work and it was brilliant. I realised how much I neglect my family when trying to provide for them. The work/life balance is a hard one to get right, and I’m definitely not managing!

The first week back has been bearable and the project is creeping towards an end. The brilliant cable installation contractor has now laid all array cables on the project, plus finishing off a bonus one just for good measure. It’s been a real eye opener – just what can be achieved with the right people and the right attitude. I’ve loved every minute of it. Hhhmmm, perhaps that last sentence has benefitted from some lingering holiday happiness. It’s been incredibly tough, and mostly enjoyable!

So what does the future hold? Not sure really. There are still a couple of months at least left working for my current main client. Quite a few cables left to bury, and closing out the commercial aspects of the project which will keep me busy for a while yet. And perhaps the project will throw up some other areas where I can support. But I do need to start looking around for what’s next. So please, do not hesitate to contact me should your project need support. I will be more than happy to get involved.

The website has had some updates, so why not go to the Home Page and have a look around.