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Alexandre Bugel, Asset Manager (France) and Brian McDaid, Head of Turbine O&M (UK&I) on keeping the lights on and delivering for clients throughout lockdown.
In the context of the pandemic and ensuing lockdown, what measures have the asset management and O&M teams at RES taken to continue work on wind and solar farms?
Alexandre: Our primary mission is to ensure the safety of our employees and stakeholders. The asset management team adapted its already stringent procedures to deal with the risk of contamination. To insure everyone’s safety, only a limited number of responders were on call and each person was equipped with a personal vehicle, protective masks and hand sanitisers. These elements, together with personal protection equipment, has limited exposure to COVID-19.
Brian: On top of what Alexandre has mentioned, there has been an increase in the amount of planning required for each job to take into account the increased hygiene and social distancing protocols. We have also created teams of two who work together at all times and avoid mixing teams. Where heavy lifting is involved, and it is difficult to stay two metres apart, we have kitted out our engineers with industrial level PPE.
What has been the impact of lockdown on the rhythm of site visits?
Alexandre: Despite strict procedures, we managed nonetheless to complete 83 site visits on the 37 wind and solar farms currently managed in France, during the lockdown period, with the precious help of eight different maintenance companies, to ensure the continuity of our activities. The relevance of each site visit, as well as the measures taken to protect employees/subcontractors were systematically evaluated in collaboration with the HQSE department.
Brian: In the UK&I we have been the same, we are continuing to deliver. For example, we have managed to complete, and in fact are ahead of schedule with, all planned maintenance. Our unscheduled maintenance works are also continuing on a daily basis. One of the main concerns in the industry was around obtaining parts and the continuation of the supply chain. However, due to Brexit we had already proactively identified component requirements and ensured we had sufficient stock in place to mitigate any supply chain issues.
How did you handle the situation with your subcontractors?
Alexandre: We made sure that our partners and subcontractors had business continuity plans which were totally in line with the current health situation, allowing the teams to safely carry out operation and maintenance of the wind and solar farms. Thanks to these measures, no accidents or incidents were reported during the lockdown period.
How had COVID-19 impacted business?
Alexandre: We have been able to assure 96% availability of the 720 MW asset portfolio in France during lockdown due to COVID-19, providing clean energy to over 112,000 people. The impact on activities has been limited and controlled. Clients were systematically informed of all the measures implemented by our teams to maintain a high quality of service, whilst keeping staff and subcontractors safe. Thanks to digitalisation and highly performing software designed by our IT teams, the asset management teams have been able to monitor sites from home, to maximise production and to maintain effective communication with all project stakeholders.
Brian: We have been the same in the UK, continuing business as usual. Our teams have been excellent in their approach and have supported the processes required to ensure their welfare was maintained. Between our asset management and O&M teams we have been providing electricity for more than 600,000 homes. During April alone, RES booked more than 2,000 key workers onto wind and solar sites, with specialist engineers bringing wind turbines and solar arrays back online. We will continue to adapt to ensure that we keep the assets we manage running and ensure the safety of our teams. Safety and quality are crucial to us and this complicated period has highlighted the agility and excellence that characterises RES.