London, UK – A blue-ribbon panel commissioned to examine the harmonisation of health and safety standards in the wind power sector has concluded its study and reported its findings to the European Commission (EC).
The Wind Harmony Consortium, which includes eclareon, The Renewables Consulting Group and WindEurope, were tasked to examine the alignment of health, safety and environment (HSE) standards and best practices across wind power construction to operation and maintenance to decommissioning to improve performance and efficiency, reduce complexity and lay the foundations for global standards.
The assignment encompassed three primary areas: mapping the existing legal requirements and industry standards for health and safety across 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway; engaging a broad array of industry stakeholders; and developing and implementing methodologies for identifying and prioritising ‘interventions’ for bringing about greater alignment in health and safety in the European wind sector.
The Consortium concluded that while the European wind industry is performing well – and has in place the necessary regulations and structures – its findings yield several recommendations for building on existing initiatives to further improve performance.
The Consortium made 37 recommendations to the EC across 19 topic areas. Of these, 15 recommendations across 7 topic areas were noted as priority recommendations. The priority topic areas are as follows:
- Training – common standards, mutual recognition and transferability
- Electrical, mechanical and other hazardous energies
- Wind turbine safety design standards
- Fitness to work and medical examinations
- Emergency planning and response
- Critical safety information sharing
- Common regulatory and enforcement approach
Despite COVID-19, stakeholder outreach consisted of two physical workshops, two virtual workshops, a series of virtual ‘roundtable’ meetings, an online questionnaire, targeted consultation/discussions with key organisations and three ‘best practice sharing’ events.
Johann Blain, Senior Project Manager, eclareon, said:
“It was a great honour to be part of the Wind Harmony project, continuing to make the EU a safer place to deploy wind power. As we now finalised the topics for harmonisation as well as the recommendations on how to move forward, we are very much looking look forward to the further exchanges and follow-ups between all stakeholders to ensure that Health & Safety remain top priorities.”
Alan Chivers, Chairman, RCG, commented:
“We are honoured and thrilled to have successfully completed this important assignment. The European wind industry, in facing harmonization challenges in health and safety standards, can be proud of this key achievement. The Consortium’s suggestions largely call for building on what is already being done in order to continue the journey towards a safer, simpler industry with common approaches to our key health and safety challenges. We strongly urge stakeholders to come together to implement the recommendations for the benefit of both the established industry and new entrants in emerging markets.”
Ivan Pineda, Director of Public Affairs, WindEurope noted:
“It’s very good the European Commission is putting focus on the variety and interpretations of health and safety rules for wind across Europe. Wind Harmony is showing that the industry can do most of the standardisation proactively and on its own, but it’s key that local authorities and regulators exchange more regularly on best practices and interpretation of EU rules.”
With its work completed, the Consortium noted that its recommendations to the EC are suggestions – there is no formal mechanism with which to follow up. It now falls to the EC and the European wind industry at large to take forward and implement the recommendations.
Note: The results of the legal and standards mapping exercise, and all project reports are available on the project website. For more information on Wind Harmony, visit www.windharmony.eu