Clean maritime: greener fuels for service operation vessels

Bibby Marine

Credit: Bibby Marine

A consortium of marine businesses explores retrofit and new build solutions for developing a zero emissions fleet.

One of the UK’s oldest family-owned marine charter companies has won funding to help deliver its vision of a green future.

Implementing zero emission fuels

Liverpool-based Bibby Marine has partnered with two specialist engineering companies, Houlder and Expleo, to assess both new build and retrofitting options for developing a zero emissions fleet.

Bibby Marine owns and operates a fleet of WaveMaster walk-to-work service operation vessels (SOVs).

These are typically diesel-electric propelled and used to transport maintenance technicians to offshore wind farms.

Custom-designed and constructed, WaveMasters provide worker accommodation on board and have the capability to stay at sea for up to 30 days without refuelling.

The project will explore how zero emission fuels can be practically implemented to a fleet of SOVs and how a fully-engineered new build might look.

Decarbonising solutions

Several alternative decarbonising solutions will be investigated for new build options and, in parallel, a retrofit team will assess the feasibility of modifying existing vessel infrastructure.

These include methanol conversion of engines and tanks, before evaluating novel technologies such as the use of hydrogen fuel cells.

The end result will be a clear plan for the future decarbonisation of SOVs, both for retrofit in the short term and new build in the longer term.

Rob Osbourne, Innovation Engineer at Bibby Marine, commented:

Being able to access innovation funding like this has really enabled us to speed up our plans for decarbonisation. We’re very proud to be a part of such an exciting and important project.

Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC)

The feasibility study into the decarbonising SOV new builds and retrofit is part of the CMDC. The competition has been funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

The CMDC was announced in March 2021.

It is part of the Prime Minister’s 10-point point plan to position the UK at the forefront of green shipbuilding and maritime technology.

The competition is a £23 million investment from government alongside a further £10 million from industry to reduce emissions from the maritime sector.

55 projects across the UK

The programme is supporting 55 projects across the UK. This includes projects in:

  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland
  • from the south-west to the north-east of England.

As set out in the Clean Maritime Plan (2019), government funding has been used to support early-stage research relating to clean maritime.

The programme will be used to support the research, design and development of zero emission technology and infrastructure solutions for maritime and to accelerate decarbonisation in the sector.

Watch our video to find out more about how Bibby Marine and its partners are exploring retrofit and new build solutions for developing a zero emissions fleet.

Last updated: 3 February 2022

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