Inventor solves turbine toilets puzzle in industry 'game changer'

Dan Greeves of PWS stands beside one of the new turbine toilets

Dan Greeves of PWS stands beside one of the new turbine toilets - Credit: PWS/TMS Media

For an industry worth billions of pounds, the wind energy sector has thus far failed to accommodate for how staff might spend a penny.  

Which is why an East Anglian inventor has come up with a solution to satisfy the most basic human need – even when staff are 100km offshore.  

Currently the droves of staff working in wind turbines have to make a precarious journey back to base if they need to use the facilities - creating more opportunities for injury but also losing work time. 

But Dan Greeves has come up with a simple design to fit toilets inside turbines in a move which has been called a “gamechanger” for the industry.   

Mr Greeves and his team at Pegasus Welfare Solutions in Lenwade created a toilet which could fit inside the turbine meaning workers could stay on site all day long. 

He said: "A question I get asked time and time again is 'Why has it taken so long for someone to do something about this?' and the answer is simple: we can't keep up with the technology. That's not remotely a criticism of the industry it's just a fact - when we look at producing green energy toilet facilities come fairly low down the priority list.

The PWS turbine toilets

The PWS turbine toilets - Credit: PWS

"Of course, workers still have access to toilets if they're working on a turbine. But it means they have to climb down to a boat to be ferried to the facilities. This way we reduce the risk of people climbing ladders as well as making up for time lost in transit."

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On top of this this women face more of an accessibility issue - a problem which puts many prospective turbine engineers off, said Mr Greeves. 

He said: "I worked offshore for 20 years. When I go to schools and colleges and talk to students the girls are likely to ask me the same question: "Is the workplace set up for me?" and at the moment they might find it more difficult. 

"I work in welfare - toilets - it's not the most glamourous thing. But when I think about the mark I want to leave on the industry it's that I had a very simple solution to a problem that will have a big impact on people's lives." 

A batch of Mr Greeves' toilets have already been commissioned by the Aberdeen Offshore Windfarm. 

Mike Herdman, O&M project manager at Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm, said: “This is a gamechanger for the industry. PWS came up with a solution and, as our wind farm is a test and demonstration centre of innovation, we are proud to take the lead and be the first to install them on all our Aberdeen turbines to be an exemplar in a global industry.”

Wind turbines currently have no facilities in them

Wind turbines currently have no facilities in them - Credit: TVP

“Leading through innovation is key, yet innovation doesn’t have to be complicated. This is an issue that needed addressing and we are collaborating to make it happen.

“The fact that it increases safety and productivity are all important added value to the user and industry.”

Plans are now in motion for more units to be used by Vattenfall, which is building two of the world’s largest windfarms off the Norfolk coast, Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas.