Growth in the development of offshore energy from coastal wind turbines
Three years ago, we reported on the sale of the first Merridale Auditor fuel management control units to Taylor Fuel Control (TFC) for use on marine refuelling pontoons. Since then, 16 units have been supplied to local port authorities for deployment in river estuaries and sheltered marinas environments. The fuel is provided to meet various operational requirements.
The Merridale Auditor system allows authorised users to access the fuel by way of a proximity datatag, which is allocated to users. Details of the amount of fuel drawn, date and time are then recorded by the Auditor unit. This data is then uploaded to the local support desk by GPRS communications link for cost accounting and recharge.
Meanwhile another exciting development has been the expansion of offshore wind turbines – another sector in which TFC has played a leading role. Each of the wind farm installations are supported by shore-based logistic support facilities. These include refuelling storage tanks for the provision of marine gas-oil. The fuel is required for support vessel refuelling and diesel generators installed on the turbine platforms to provide power for maintenance and repair work.
TFC has supplied tanks for 20 sites around the British Isles and the deployment is on-going. Each of the installations, so far, have been based on 50 – 100,000 litres capacity tanks, equipped with pumps and high flow rate volume dispensing, up to 200 litres a minute to the supply vessel. Additional installations are in plan for larger capacity installations with storage up to 250,000 litres.
The tanks are all equipped with stock management facilities, including a Merridale Auditor management system, which enables the support vessels to help themselves to fuel. The set-up is very similar to commercial depot fuelling, using a datatag to identify the customer account. The main difference being the high dispensing flow rate being handled by the Merridale control unit.
Most of the manufacturing work is completed in the TFC workshops before delivery to site. The company has production facilities currently at three locations, Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, North London and Newmarket Suffolk. This and the growth of their traditional forecourt business has provided new jobs with a 25 percent increase in the workforce over the last three years. Future expansion plans include an additional facility near Gloucester to support new business in the south west and Wales.
“Our clients in this sector include the major power distribution utilities who are all actively investing in wind turbine infrastructure,” explains TFC managing director, Gerald Kind.
“Much of this is going offshore where the power companies are creating a network of windfarms which are now being connected into the national grid,” explains TFC managing director, Gerald King.
“The significance of this growth was exemplified during 2016 when a peak in power generated by windfarms reached 50 percent of the UK’s overall electricity consumer requirements. So, we are definitely making progress in reducing our dependence on nuclear and carbon-based power stations.”
Gerald King is confident about future business prospects and he does not see any serious threat yet from overseas competition. “There is an on-going demand for high quality British engineering services and infrastructure throughout Europe,” he says.
“Our customer base covers most diesel fuel users. Road transport fleet operators account for about 65 percent of our business. Engineering products such as access stairs and support structures are about ten percent and the rest come from wind farms and other waterside refuelling facilities.”
Commenting on the relationship with Merridale, Gerald King said “I believe the company has a great product to offer. The equipment is very robust, and we know that we can trust their sales and after sales support.
“Selection is often down to the customer’s preferred solutions, but if there are any problems and we are asked for recommendations, we will put forward Merridale because of the equipment quality and reliability.”