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Decision support tool for offshore wind farm vessel routing under uncertainty

Dawid, Rafael and McMillan, David and Revie, Matthew (2018) Decision support tool for offshore wind farm vessel routing under uncertainty. Energies, 11 (9). ISSN 1996-1073

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Abstract

This paper for the first time captures the impact of uncertain maintenance action times on vessel routing for realistic offshore wind farm problems. A novel methodology is presented to incorporate uncertainties, e.g., on the expected maintenance duration, into the decision-making process. Users specify the extent to which these unknown elements impact the suggested vessel routing strategy. If uncertainties are present, the tool outputs multiple vessel routing policies with varying likelihoods of success. To demonstrate the tool's capabilities, two case studies were presented. Firstly, simulations based on synthetic data illustrate that in a scenario with uncertainties, the cost-optimal solution is not necessarily the best choice for operators. Including uncertainties when calculating the vessel routing policy led to a 14% increase in the number of wind turbines maintained at the end of the day. Secondly, the tool was applied to a real-life scenario based on an offshore wind farm in collaboration with a United Kingdom (UK) operator. The results showed that the assignment of vessels to turbines generated by the tool matched the policy chosen by wind farm operators. By producing a range of policies for consideration, this tool provided operators with a structured and transparent method to assess trade-offs and justify decisions.