Damen’s all-electric SOV with offshore charging capabilities dazzles OEEC’s stage

Damen Shipyards launched its fully electric Service Operations Vessel (SOV) with offshore charging capabilities at this year’s Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) in Amsterdam. Mark Couwenberg, Product Portfolio Manager SOV, and Rebecca Belmer, Project Engineer Design & Proposal, have shared their insights on how this vessel design was born and the role of industry collaboration in the future.


Dubbed the world’s first fully electric SOV with offshore charging capabilities, the ship was launched on 28 November in Amsterdam. The idea to develop such a design arose three years ago, and the company’s team decided to dedicate time to work on a detailed design.

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“About three years back, we asked ourselves the question, can’t we build these vessels full electric on batteries or would that be just outrageous big? I mean batteries, we all know they’re big, but actually the answer was pretty simple already. Soon we realized, yes, we can build these vessels full electric,” Couwenberg revealed during his speech at the OEEC’s session.

Basically there are three main questions that you had to solve. One is of course the vessel design. We need to fit in the batteries and a few other things. The second thing, the charge system. We realized full electric vessels are only possible if there is a decent solid charge system in the field. And we also realized basically we want a charge system, which is installed on a wind turbine or an offshore substation rather than a buoy maybe, or another type of complex structure,” he continued.

The 70-meter-long SOV 7017E has 60 cabins that provide accommodation for crew and up to 40 technicians and all the storage space, workshops, and deck space to undertake the broad scope of transportation and work needed. It also features Damen’s DPX-DRIVE layout, with four azimuth thrusters providing propulsion independently.

Credit: Damen

The Dutch shipbuilder contracted UK-based MJR Power & Automation to conduct a business case analysis.

“The business case is made for the overall solution. So it’s good to mention that it’s not Damen’s business case, but actually more of the wind park developer input parameters Here are of course operational profile but also the investment cost of both a battery or a diesel generator and charge systems,” Belmer stated.

The analysis showed a healthy return on investment, ranging anywhere between 5 and 15 years, depending on the scenario.

Key parameters are then the payback time. In one of the examples, that’s 11.1 years and the amount of CO2 that would be saved on a two-week trip, which is generally the duration of a trip offshore, would be 205 tons, according to Belmer. The input parameters are based on real market values, and Damen ran some scenarios with wind park developers.

Furthermore, MJR Power & Automation took up the challenge of developing a charging system for an SOV. It’s about four megawatts of charge power at 11 kilovolts, which is a high voltage and many aspects played a big role there, Couwenberg stated.

The connection is done from the bridge of the ship. No manual intervention on deck at all. So a very smooth operation. Please remember this connector is going to be a big connector. I won’t be able to lift myself. We really need it’s, it’s a big connector really it’s a big power. And also we decided to make the connection on the grid side of the wind turbine.,” he highlighted.

Damen decided to use a certain type of battery chemistry, which is called lithium iron phosphate (LFP). Couwenberg noted that they choose the LFP batteries for two main reasons, one of them being safety and the other being the ecological aspect. However, the SOVs will still be also fitted with diesel generators.

We call our zero emission and she will be operating zero emission in the wind farm. But still, we believe we need to fit big size diesel generators. The main reason being backup, maybe one day you cannot charge, maybe you have to mobilize the vessel to one part of the world to the other for that batteries really won’t work,” according to Couwenberg.

“We are really eager to make this a reality. We are there, we are ready for it. But really if we feel the next step is especially to wind park developers and also to vessel owners, hopefully you’re ready to jump together with us on the train and make this full electric SOV operations a reality,” he concluded.

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