EnBW and BP have launched a project to evaluate the use of zero or low-emission support vessels at their planned offshore wind farms.
The four-month project will draw on R&D expertise from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, with a view to informing the partners’ approach to procuring a quartet of service vessels to support their upcoming pipeline.
EnBW and bp are jointly developing three offshore wind projects in two UK locations. Morven is a 2.9GW lease area off the east coast of Scotland secured under last year’s ScotWind leasing round, while ‘Morgan’ and ‘Mona’ lie within a 3GW area in the Irish Sea.
In developing Morven, BP has promised investments in infrastructure, ports, harbours and shipyards, including the construction of four Scottish-built support vessels.
Of the four, two have been eyed as Service Operation Vessels (SOVs) and two for crew transfers (CTVs). The new-builds are expected to involve spend of over £100 million, and support 500 associated jobs.
The latest feasibility study will provide “an overview of the opportunities and challenges associated with introducing new fuels into offshore wind SOVs”, ORE Catapult said, and will recommend appropriate technology developments and supply chain opportunities.
With analysis from partners at University of Strathclyde, the University of Edinburgh, and the Manufacturing Technology Centre, the study will examine infrastructure, regulation, supply chains and technology such as internal combustion engines, fuel cells and batteries, and fuels such as biodiesel, electric and hydrogen, before providing recommendations for support vessels.
Richard Haydock, project director at UK offshore wind for BP said: “This is a key step in turning our offshore wind plans into action. We plan to build four ships in Scotland and how we power them is incredibly important.
“EnBW and bp are proud and excited to be part of a study that will help us identify low emission fuel types to power the ships that will service our offshore wind projects, delivering almost 6GW to the UK.”
ORE Catapult clean maritime manager Lauren Hadnum added: “The commitment from partners to investigate both net zero technology and local build for these vessels is an exciting opportunity for UK industry, which aligns with the ambitions outlined in the Refreshed National Shipbuilding Strategy.
“We hope this piece of work will lay the foundation for future EnBW and bp SOV developments as well as informing wider industry.”
Other shipping providers are already on the way towards equipping new low-emission fleets to meet demand in the burgeoning wind sector.
North Star last year announced a £140m finance package to support what it said was the “next wave” of expansion, having conducted studies of its own on decarbonisation.
Meanwhile Edda Wind too is expanding its roster of future-proofed offshore wind ships.