Recognising it makes environmental and economic sense, vessel owners, designers and equipment manufacturers are pioneering solutions for vessel decarbonisation in the offshore wind industry
In OWJ’s webinar ‘Green vessels for a green industry: the offshore wind sector’s race to decarbonise its assets,’ which took place on 10 June 2020, delegates heard the offshore wind industry has quickly become a leader in efforts to address emissions from ships.
They also heard adopting technology to reduce emissions doesn’t just make sense from an environmental point of view: it makes great economic sense too.
Introducing the webinar, DNV GL business/segment director, special ships, Arnstein Eknes said of decarbonisation in the offshore wind industry, “The future is already here.”
He highlighted the trend towards decarbonisation in the energy sector as a whole, and offshore wind’s ever-growing role in the energy transition, a development he said would increase demand for a wide range of offshore wind vessels, including installation vessels, cable-layers, service operation vessels (SOVs) and crew transfer vessels (CTVs). All of these vessels need to decarbonise and make use of environmentally friendly technology, he said, but would go about it in different ways.
Mr Eknes said different vessels would adopt different emissions reduction technology, not least because their power requirements vary widely but, for most, hybrid propulsion was an obvious start point.
“For many of these vessels, flexibility in their power systems is essential,” he said, highlighting the rapid uptake in battery power in the sector. He said he also expects hydrogen – green hydrogen – to become an important fuel in the offshore wind industry, particularly given offshore wind’s ability to produce green hydrogen at scale.
ABB global product and portfolio manager John Olav Lindtjørn told delegates ABB sees three main trends in vessels of all types, but particularly in the offshore wind sector. These are: electrification, digitalisation and connectivity.
Mr Lindtjørn said electric power has many advantages, not just the fact it is ‘greener’. “[The] electric power plant is simpler,” he said. “And it helps to make vessels more economical to operate.”
He cited the example of a new cable-layer, NKT Victoria, which has 60% lower fuel consumption than comparable conventional vessels, thanks to its Onboard DC grid and its ability to use a shore connection when in port spooling cable.
He also highlighted the fast pace of development with multi-megawatt fuel cell systems. “Multi-megawatt fuel cells are becoming a reality,” he said, noting that ABB is working with clients on potential applications of fuel cells right now.
Global Marine Group engineering manager Andy Newman, too, highlighted the economic and environmental benefits that flow from adopting new technology that can decarbonise offshore wind vessels. He also highlighted the large number of CTVs operating worldwide and the aggregate effect that making them more environmentally friendly would have. His company has taken a step in that direction with a hybrid CTV that will be ready for service later in 2020.
“It’s important to bear in mind that the price of fuel for conventional vessels with diesel engines fluctuates a great deal,” Mr Newman said. Storing fuel on a vessel is not straightforward and that fuel is not available ‘on demand.’ As you use that fuel, a vessel’s trim changes, which has to be taken into account operationally, and diesel machinery has lots of moving parts that need regular maintenance and can break down. “Technology that can decarbonise vessel operations has very clear commercial benefits too,” Mr Newman said.
Vattenfall Network Solutions business development manager Carolina Escudero said a growing number of windfarm operators are committed to decarbonisation in their supply chains. She also noted that many of the vessel decarbonisation solutions highlighted in the webinar would require shore-to-ship power. This will require investment from ports and the involvement of other actors in the chain, from windfarm owners to vessel owners.
“All of the stakeholders need to be involved in this process,” she said, “and more effort needs to be made to achieve standardisation and avoid solutions that are too bespoke and not suitable for a range of vessels.”
Responding to her point, Mr Lindtjørn described the example of the ferry sector, where infrastructure to support vessels regularly using the same route has been tailored to the needs of electric ships, a model that might be applied in offshore wind.
Live polling of delegates during the event (see a full list of polls below) highlighted the way offshore wind is leading the offshore and shipping industries in efforts to decarbonise. Responses also highlighted companies’ recognition of the need to decarbonise, the drivers involved, and some of the avenues for doing so, many of which were covered in the webinar.
The webinar was part of Riviera Maritime Media’s ongoing multi-week series of webinars, including Offshore Wind Webinar Week.
You can view the webinar, in full, in our webinar library.
And you can sign up to attend one of our many upcoming webinars on our events page.
What will be the main driver for economical decarbonisation of the industry?
Regulations preventing use of the fossil fuels: 46%
Incentives for electrical hybrid vessels: 23%
Fuel price fluctuations: 5%
Emissions tax/internal CO2 cost: 26%
Will public engagement play a direct role in driving the decarbonisation of the CTV fleet?
Which one do you consider more suitable for your business?
Retrofitting green propulsion technologies: 34%
Building new vessels with green propulsion technologies: 64%
Stay the same: 2%
Do you see things converging towards hydrogen as an important energy carrier in the offshore wind industry?
Yes, it appears that way: 68%
No, hydrogen will probably not be a significant energy carrier: 8%
Hard to tell at the moment: 24%
The first offshore windfarm operated without carbon emissions stemming from SOV and CTV vessels...
1-2 years from now: 10%
3-5 years from now: 48%
5-10 years from now: 42%
Irrespective of future fuel selection, all new vessels should be built with some kind of battery or battery hybrid system
Yes – saving energy, reducing emissions and operational cost: 84%
Yes – but only if requested by the charterer: 15%
No – it will make vessels more complex to maintain and operate: 1%