A half a million pound project to support Shetland’s maritime industry to transition to zero-carbon fuels has received government support.
The NEPTUNE project is being led by Strathclyde University, in partnership with Ricardo UK, Babcock International and Shetland Islands Council.
It aims to develop a desk-based decision modelling and support system (DEMOSS) tool that will help to analyse, scope and develop plans for supporting the transition.
More widely, it’s hoped the scheme will help to deliver Shetland’s 2030 net zero target.
In order to support its development, NEPTUNE is now supported by Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC), which is funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, .
Professor Evangelos Boulougouris, of the Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Martine Engineering at Strathclyde, said: “The ambitions for transition to a Net-Zero economy creates different challenges across the UK. The Shetland Islands has a unique maritime ecosystem and requires significant investment to reach Net-Zero status.
“The modelling for this project needs to be highly-accurate to capture the requirements for a large and diverse fleet of vessels and their unique operating characteristics, and this will be a particularly innovative aspect to this project.
“The model will help to reduce the cost of planning and implementing a zero-carbon energy system for Shetland and could be used for other islands or ports too.
“DEMOSS will provide virtual testing of solutions before implementing zero carbon solutions on vessels, which gives owners the confidence they need before transitioning to cleaner maritime solutions.”
The first phase of the project will involve gathering data on the types of marine vessels operating from the island and their unique characteristics.
Thereby researchers will be able to create highly-accurate ‘digital twin models’ – or virtual representations – of them and their supporting onshore infrastructure.
Work will then be carried out to determine which zero-carbon technologies different vessels could switch to and input the twin models into a digital dashboard which will monitor the flow of renewable fuels from ‘well to wake’.
The results of the study will help researchers to assess the impact of zero-carbon fuel supply in terms of storage space needed.
It will also establish the the amount of renewable electricity required and the other factors, such as land and water, required to match the digital model.
James Mullineux, head of digital at Ricardo, said: “Ricardo is a trusted engineering services provider, supporting the decarbonisation of the global transport and energy sectors. We are proud that our expertise in digital engineering, including digital twin, and hydrogen technology can reduce time, cost and risk for Shetland in achieving Net-Zero status.”
Neil Young, engineering & technology director at Babcock, said: “Rosyth is thrilled to be working alongside our partners on this new project. It will allow Babcock to share our global expertise in ship design, future fuels and technologies to ensure that vessel owners and operators in the marine sector select the optimum solution.”
NEPTUNE is working alongside project ORION, set up in April 2020, which aims to help oil and gas fields around Shetland to become net zero.
Strathclyde is also a partner in the scheme, which is exploring using onshore and offshore wind energy to power platforms, homes and businesses on the island.
It could also be used to produce green hydrogen at scale, replacing fossil fuels by providing affordable renewable energy.
Port facilities, including Sullom Voe, are also in contention to be powered by wind energy and redeveloped to support the renewables sector.
Steven Coutts, leader of Shetland Islands Council, said: “The NEPTUNE project will help to facilitate the transformation of Shetland’s current dependency on fossil fuels to affordable, renewable energy for both marine vessels and the associated support infrastructure, industries and communities.”
Simon Edmonds, deputy executive chair and chief business officer for Innovate UK, said: “As the UK prepares to host COP26 in the maritime city of Glasgow, it is great that we can announce funding for these fantastic projects in the maritime sector that will help the UK meet its net zero goals. From this competition we saw a very high level of demand, we have seen the very best of British ideas from all over the country. It is clear that not only does the UK have a great maritime history, but also a bright and greener future too.”