Classification Survey Covering Ships and Offshore Wind Fields President Ying-ru Liu: The Best Project Survey Body in Taiwan is CR Classification Society

By WindTAIWAN / 2020-08-12

“All project certification bodies around the world started off their business from vessel certification because every day the ships cruising the international marine lines have to face surveys by the ports around the globe. This is the most vast-ranging business with the fastest flow of information. The best project survey body in Taiwan is CR Classification Society!” said Liu Ying-ru, President of CR Classification Society.

Establishing Top-level Unit Devoted to Project Certification

Offshore wind power engineering ships are different than ordinary container ships. To ensure the safety of these ships during their missions, the government demands that offshore wind power engineering ships must obtained approval by CR Classification Society and acquire certificates before they can be dispatched for missions. CR Classification Society has tapped into offshore wind power since 2012 and established the Renewable Energy Department on January 9, 2020, a top-level department under the Society. Over the course of 8 years, the Society gradually built the ability to provide third- party surveys in 3 phases and became part of the national survey body formed by Bureau of Standards, Metrology & Inspection, MOEA.

On top of project certification, CR Classification's Renewable Energy Department is also devoted to marine warranty surveys and technical due diligence investigation.“The scope of project certification involves environment impact assessment, site selection criteria assessment, design criteria, durability of the designed structure, wind turbines, materials used for manufacturing underwater foundations, construction methods, transportation and installation during construction. Surveys are also conducted during the construction phase of wind farms by any developers,” Liu explained.

Taiwan’s unique geographical features give rise to “National Project Certification Alliance"

MOEA announced the Directions for Exemplary Instructions on Surveying Offshore Wind Farms on September 23, 2019, regulating that all wind farms must go through compulsory project survey. “The government will begin to enforce compulsory survey on all wind farms in the future. However, there aren’t many project surveyors in the world, and overseas survey bodies would not want  to spend resources putting up a team in Taiwan for the sake of a wind farm. That's why we have to cultivate our own talents,” said Liu.

Europe is quite mature and experienced in  developing offshore wind power,  but it lacks the data and surveys pertinent to earthquakes and typhoons, the two unique weather features in Taiwan. Therefore, it is difficult to derive from European experience due to the lack of data and surveys to provide a status quo. “In addition to taking in Europe’s experience, we used our experience and talent in tackling earthquakes and typhoons. We started from scratch and continued to research, design software and conduct surveys. So far, our ongoing works have caught the attention from overseas bodies and they’ll even visit us to understand how we do our job. It is one of our critical missions to accumulate data and experience in our progression  to constructing offshore wind farms,” said Liu.

Yu-ti Jhan, Director of Renewable Energy Department said “We were involved in the construction of Formosa 1 so we had the opportunity to see how wind farm surveys are conducted, and also we observed how a wind farm selects its turbines and conduct geological surveys. We learned overseas experience during the process, and we found that overseas teams were unfamiliar to the condition in Taiwan,” said Jhan.“For instance, it is generally considered that typhoons and earthquakes will damage wind turbines, but a system damage like this will cause other problems. An example is that backup batteries for wind turbines are required to sustain 6 hours in operation but typhoons usually stay inland for over 6 hours. The measures we took is  to add a generator to the wind turbines  or to provide our power grid a double- circuit structure. These experiences can remind European teams to put the unique situations into considerations and incorporate into design. Both sides can combine forces and complement each other through respective experiences.”

In addition to complementing Europe's experience in technical terms, CR Classification Society can serve as a think tank regarding government security and as a system security guard. “Currently we have to see if DNV-GL's survey data can fully comply with the national laws,” said the Director.

Work Division of the National Project Survey Alliance 

Organized by MOEA, the National Project Survey Alliance consists of CR Classification Society, MIRDC (Metal Industries Research & Development Centre), TERTEC (Taiwan Electric Research & Testing Center), TIER (Taiwan Institute of Economic Research), among others. As in the graph below, CR Classification Society is responsible for underwater foundation like structures and marine conditions, MIRDC for wind turbines above the water, TERTEC for delivering power, and TIER for loans used for project management following system completion. 

All units in the National Project Survey Alliance have commenced project surveys. Currently the Alliance accumulates specialty and experience by learning from the government's laws and cases. Liu said “Currently CR Classification Society has been accumulating experience by pre- evaluating cases and simulating operations. I expect the Society to get on track in 3 to 5 years.” Yu-Ti Jhan added, “Like the first-phase project by Taiwan Power Company and Yunlin Wind Power’s case in Yunlin County, excluding the paperwork, these cases are roughly in the execution stage where due diligence investigation, marine warranty survey and so on are already in progress.”

However, so far the units of the Alliance often run into problems such as unclear work division and overlapping  jobs. Yu- Ti Jhan said the above-mentioned work division set was 3 years ago and now it  is mainly used for explanation. “Initially we planned according to the specialties of every unit, but in execution we found overlapping data in different units, and  it was not like what was explained in the drawings.” “Our actual execution has been adjusted as follows. CR Classification Society will have to handle all problems with wind farms and extend its work range, in addition to managing underwater foundation. MIRDC will also have to handle all problems with wind farms.” said the Director.

The Director thinks that build technical abilities takes time. “The greatest benefit so far is that all of the teams are part of the national alliance. All data and work development fall under the big picture portrayed by Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection, and all units develop extensive projects utilizing their specialties. This increases the execution rate quite a lot,” said the Director.

Ambiguity in Naming Necessary Action to Rectify the Name

Recently t he topic su r r ounding organization names with reference to “China” has emerged in Taiwan because the names often create ambiguity and confusion in the world stage. When asked if her company’s name causes confusion on the world stage and is often mistaken for an organization under China, the President said, “Yes, quite a lot. That's why we changed the company’s English name from ‘ China Corporation of Shipping’ to ‘CR Classification Society’. We did this 5 or 6 years ago.”

She took the advice from International Maritime Organization and decided to change the English name in case of confusion. “There is always someone who will call out the ‘One China Policy’ whenever we, on behalf of our government, have to negotiate with international organizations such as International Maritime Organization.” “Since international organizations know that we come from Taiwan, some people in International Maritime Organization suggested that it was time we changed the English name. Due to considerations of the reality, we took the abbreviation ‘CR’ as our official name since 5  or  6 years ago. At least it won’t cause confusion and somewhat reduce political interference,” said the President.

Changing the name involves a lot of problems like the validity of the issued certificates and recognition by outside parties. The president said, “Initially we were concerned if we would lose the authorization when we changed the name. We have authorization from the Taiwanese government to issue certificates, and we also have the authorization from Panama and Belize. However, there are problems regarding new and expired certificates. If any ship  is obstructed outside of Taiwan due to our name change, that causes a problem with the certificates, and if one cannot start a ship at any port as a result of the name change, our credibility will be challenged. Fortunately we made enough preparations and the name change went well without causing problems in and outside of Taiwan.”

On the politically-sensitive Chinese name of her company that still contains reference to China, she said “We’ve been thinking that sooner or later we will have to change it, given the political sensitivity surrounding the word ‘China’ that has been intensified during these two years. However, there is no immediate rush to change it for the time being and it’s not   a breeze to find an appropriate Chinese name. This is troubling us as well because of the complications in political aspects. We are still in discussion.”

Cooperation of CR Classifcation Society

Challenges and Changes in Businesses Apart from Ship Survey

Apart from ship survey, professional survey service is a brand new challenge for CR Classification Society. Given their market deployment as well as the fact that CR Classification Society is  a professional survey body in Taiwan,foreign companies look forward to collaborating with them.

“We have signed about 9 to 10 MOUs from 2018 to 2019, including those with DNV-GL, UL, ANK, and TÜV SÜD. We are willing to collaborate with multiple bodies under compliance to the general environment ad the framework approved by Bureau of Standards, Metrology & Inspection.”

As early as 8 years ago, CR Classification Society decided to join forces with the government and tap into offshore wind power. At that time, the Society had already been collaborating with DNV-GL which had the largest market share in European wind power survey. “There was a time that DNV and GL were separate bodies (the two merged into ‘DNV-GL’ in 2013). We wanted DNV-GL to provide us with trainings. It’s understandable that no survey body would want to train   a client to become its competitor, doing the same jobs as they do. However, after in-depth conversation we’ve reached a mutual understanding that Taiwan needs to cultivate talent and expressed strong interest to build partnership. CR Classification Society spent a budget of around 1 to 2 million NTD on the training for a survey team of 5 people,” said Liu.

According to Liu’s observation and experience in professional survey training, foreign certification bodies are certainly dominating the industry and frontrunners in R&D. These certification bodies shared with us only on basic knowledge and are reluctant to share key “know-how” in the industry.

“If we really wanted to know the bolts and nuts of what they do, they might open up a crack for us to figure out a way to get in. It is the know-how which we gained from surveying ships that enables us to achieve our desired level in project survey,” said Liu. “Project survey is the same thing as ship survey. CR Classification Society has been in the business of ship survey for 70 years and has been in touch with foreign bodies. It’s pretty clear to us that we cannot acquire the real essence from foreigners, because every bit of it has to come from our own endeavors.”

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