In industry first, giant drones deployed at offshore wind farms

The 58 kg drones, with a wingspan of 2.6 m, can carry cargo of up to 68 kg.

With that size and heft, we can use drones to deliver cargo to some of our biggest offshore wind farms – such as Hornsea 1, located about 120 km off the Yorkshire Coast in the unforgiving North Sea.

By deploying huge drone we can reduce costs, as well as improve operational safety and efficiency.

The drones mean: 

  • Less work disturbance because turbines don’t have to be shut down when cargo is delivered.
  • Increased safety, diminishing risk for personnel working on our wind farms.
  • The need for multiple ship journeys is minimised, reducing carbon emissions and climate change impacts. 

On a windfarm the size of Hornsea 1 – which spans a huge area of approximately 407 km2, which is over five times the size of the city of Hull – that’s a big leap in terms of efficiency. 

With a total capacity of 1.2 GW, Hornsea 1 produces enough green energy to power over 1 million homes and held the title of the world’s largest wind farm until its sister project, Hornsea 2, came into operation in 2022. 

The trials in the UK build on our previous experience testing smaller drones, carrying much lighter loads, at other offshore wind farms.  

The drone, with the wingspan of an albatross, is managed from a control room with two flight desks. The flights are fully planned, coordinated, and monitored for safety.    

“At Ørsted we want to use our industry leading position to help push forward innovations that reduce costs and maximise efficiency and safety in the offshore wind sector,” said Mikkel Haugaard Windolf, the project leader for our offshore logistics team. 

“Drone cargo delivery is an important step in that direction.”

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