Offshore Scarecrow Could Make Helidecks Safer

Offshore Scarecrow Could Make Helidecks Safer
Say hello to Scaretech. PHOTO SOURCE: Scaretech

Seabird droppings – guano – on offshore helidecks create safety and health risks for humans. Accumulated guano on helidecks can increase slip hazards and obscure markings that helicopter pilots need to see. In addition, inhaling airborne substances present in guano can lead to illness.

The U.K. firm Scaretech has developed a bird-deterrent device bearing the same name that it contends has reduced the incidence of guano on an offshore wind farm from 50 to 60 percent coverage to “virtually nothing.” Having completed the 12-month trial at RWE Renewables’ Galloper Offshore Wind Farm 17 miles (27 kilometers) off the Suffolk, U.K. coast, Scaretech is ready to deploy its eponymous solar-powered scarecrow system on offshore helidecks.

“This trial with Galloper Wind Farm is a game-changer for us and shows once and for all that Scaretech is an extremely effective, long-standing solution for the guano problem,” remarked Terry Christie, Scaretech offshore client representative who developed the device with offshore engineer Paddy Armstrong.

Based on the centuries-old scarecrow concept but adapted for the harsh offshore environment of a wind farm or oil platform, Scaretech resembles an offshore worker in full protective clothing, the company noted in a written statement emailed to Rigzone. The firm pointed out the device is manufactured from steel, flexible foam and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and fastened to an offshore structure. Power from solar panels enables the 21st century scarecrow to emit sporadic loud noises and high-intensity strobe lights intended to prevent seabirds from landing on the structure, it added.

“We were looking for a solution and, after considering more expensive options, decided to trial Scaretech,” commented Kieron Drew, interim operations and maintenance manager with Galloper. “This is a new innovation for the wind industry and it certainly worked for us. Once we installed the Scaretech device, we saw dramatic reductions in the amount of guano. In fact, the problem is now almost non-existent.”

Drew added the device has saved his company considerable clean-up costs and technician time.

“(J)ust one Scaretech can protect an area as large as a substation or helideck from guano for 12 months and longer,” stated Christie. “Over time, the birds never become accustomed to the device and simply stay away from it. This is fantastic news for the offshore industry. Any health and safety matrix highlights the need to eliminate hazards if at all possible, and Scaretech certainly does this for guano.”

Christie and wind service company CPower Energy are promoting Scaretech to the global offshore market.

“We’ve taken the simple bird deterrent of a scarecrow – tested over hundreds of years – and updated it with the latest, state-of-the-art technology to enable it to withstand the extreme weather conditions offshore,” concluded Christie. “Scarecrow works beyond everyone’s expectations and we now plan to launch a low-cost monthly rental option to enable the offshore sector to benefit from this proven solution.”

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