The crew transfer vessel (CTV) segment of the offshore wind industry is ready to bring new, more efficient, fuel-saving and emissions-reducing vessels to market, but doing so needs all of the players involved to work together and bear the cost of introducing new technology
That was the key finding of the first webinar in Offshore Wind Journal’s Offshore Wind Webinar Week.
The event took place on 2 November 2020 and focused on Next-generation CTVs: enhanced designs for enhanced operations. Among the panellists were: BAR Technologies chief technology officer Simon Schofield; Workboat Association chief executive Kerrie Forster; and World Inertia Naval Design managing director Olav Kjetil Opheim.
Mr Forster told attendees there would be no ‘one size fits all’ solution for CTV designs or for drivetrains and propulsors. Instead, several solutions are likely to emerge, that will need to be tailored to the needs of individual windfarms, and to port facilities supporting vessels.
“We need to think about whose costs and whose emissions we want to reduce,” he said. “Are we only talking about vessel owners or does the offshore wind industry as a whole need to reduce emissions and help drive change in vessel design? Initially, new technology will cost more.” Mr Forster said. “That might mean day rates will have to go up.
“If we want to introduce new technology, reduce emissions and reduce costs in the long term, we need to nurture the supply chain,” he said. That needs input at every level of the industry, from the companies developing technology to charterers, he suggests.
The naval architects and vessel designers on the panel agreed with Mr Forster’s sentiments. Both have developed new technology and have progressed to see examples of new designs under construction.
Mr Schofield and Mr Opheim agreed that charterers can help drive the introduction of new hullforms, new propulsion solutions and can help what is a green energy industry to reduce emissions.
“The future will be hybrid or maybe fully electric,” said Mr Schofield, but he agreed that in the short-term, new technology would probably need to be supported by higher day rates.
“Take batteries. They are large and costly now,” said Mr Forster, “but like mobile phones, the technology is evolving quickly.” The size and weight of batteries and their cost will decline, but in the short term changes to drivetrains will see costs increase, as happens in most industries when new technology is first introduced. Later, with scale, costs fall. “There are lots of potential solutions out there,” Mr Forster concluded, “but we need to work together to bring them on.”
Mr Opheim agreed, and said the industry has to work together to ‘close the gap’ so that promising technology can be matured. That will need forward-looking charterers and flexibility on day rates, he said.
Mr Schofield described emissions from conventional, diesel-powered CTVs as the industry’s ‘dirty little secret.’ He agreed there are many potential solutions but some ‘push’ from windfarm owners and asset owners is needed. “And it’s not just about fuel consumption and emissions,” he said. “New technology is needed to ensure that windfarm technicians have a comfortable journey to work offshore and arrive at a windfarm ready for work.”
The webinar included several polls of delegates. Asked about their level of interest in new technology and whether they intended to adopt it, approximately 60% of those responding said they were interested in new technology. Approximately 25% said they would be interested in trialling new solutions but not all had a vessel available on which it might be tested.
About half of those developing new products said they are currently in the design phase, but nearly 40% said they had solutions that are already ready for the market.
Of those attending, 43% said they believed charterers had an important role to play bringing new technology into service. Around a third said charterers ought to use their position in the industry to force change.
Most agreed that cleaner vessels are the direction of travel of the CTV segment, but only half of respondents said it was now time to abandon older designs.
More detail about new technology and designs introduced by BAR Technologies and World Inertia Naval Design will follow in a subsequent article from OWJ.