Photo: Acergy Viking; Photo source: Eidesvik Offshore

In focus: Energy and shipping sectors in symbiosis for net-zero

Offshore Energy continues with its new In focus weekly feature, spotlighting the latest energy transition developments, after our first edition went online on 16 April.

Following last week’s news on the U.S. oil giant Chevron’s entrance into the offshore wind market and note that the company has not yet announced its net-zero agenda, its Norwegian counterpart Equinor – which set out net-zero commitments last year and already has ‘hands-on’ experience in the offshore renewables sector – is set to update its existing energy transition plan.

The company will submit updates for an advisory vote to shareholders at its future Annual General Meetings, starting from 2022, as it intends to revise the energy transition plan every three years and report on the progress on the plan annually.

Equinor said it was among the first companies in the industry to introduce such a measure, building on the company’s evolving climate efforts, which go back to before 2018 when the oil and gas player changed its name as part of the strategy to transform itself into a broad energy company.

As the energy transition sweeps across the oil and gas realm, the biggest players are taking steps in various segments to lower their own emissions and to provide clean energy and clean fuel to the consumers. Shell, which has already entered the renewables market and has several hydrogen stations, has announced a new feasibility study to test the use of hydrogen fuel cells for ships.

The study will involve developing and installing an auxiliary power unit proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell on an existing roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessel that transports goods, vehicles and equipment on lorries between Singapore mainland and Shell’s Pulau Bukom Manufacturing Site. This will be the first such study both for Shell and in Singapore, aiming to bring forward solutions for cleaner and hydrogen-powered shipping.

The use of fossil fuels in the shipping industry should be banned by 2030 if the industry is to meet its decarbonisation efforts, according to a study by MAN Energy Solutions, which outlines four scenarios that explore how to reach the maritime industry’s climate targets by 2050.

“Time is pressing – 2050 is just a single ship-generation away”, said Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions, further adding that a clear political course and global regulation were the key parameters for a successful maritime energy transition.

Along with lowering the environmental footprint, decarbonisation can also be a driver for growth, the study says, as only green shipping can cover the growing demand for international logistics if decarbonisation is a global priority.

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Eco-friendly vessels have been a reality for some time and have been built as such for service in various sectors, including the dredging industry, where Rohde Nielsen recently introduced two new diesel-electric dredgers: Ask R and Embla R.

The two trailing suction hopper dredgers (TSHDs) are equipped with battery packages of 600 kW, tailored diesel particulate filters (DPF) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR), and an advanced energy dispersion system which enables superior energy efficiency. The Copenhagen-based Rohde Nielsen said that these were probably the most innovative and environmentally friendly split TSHDs ever built.

Vessel owners are not only investing in low-emissions newbuilds but are also outfitting their existing fleets to future-proof them as energy transition and ship decarbonisation efforts move forward on the path to reaching global 2050 target. The latest vessel operator to announce this kind of an overhaul is Norwegian Eidesvik Offshore, which will upgrade its service operation vessel (SOV) Acergy Viking as part of a plan to reduce its fleet emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.

The 14-year-old vessel will be fitted with a battery pack and hybrid propulsion solution, and delivered in the first quarter of 2022. Acergy Viking will be deployed on an offshore wind project until 2027 under a contract with the wind turbine supplier Siemens Gamesa, further lowering the emissions within the offshore wind sector, which is considered the backbone of the European energy transition.

While most mature and most built, offshore wind is not the only renewable energy technology tapping into the offshore resources around the world, as projects are advancing in both wave and tidal industries.

This week, Scottish tidal energy company Orbital Marine Power launched its 2 MW tidal turbine, dubbed O2, from the Port of Dundee, sending it on its way to Orkney. The operation to transfer the 680-tonne turbine from the Forth Ports quayside facility in Dundee into the River Tay was managed by Osprey Heavy Lift using a submersible barge.

O2 will now be towed to the Orkney Islands, where it will undergo commissioning before being connected to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC). Once commissioned, it will become the world’s most powerful operational tidal turbine.

For the companies working in offshore renewables, the opportunities do not stop at projects built off the countries’ coasts. At least this is the case for Hellenic Cables and Asso.subsea, whose joint venture has won a contract for a subsea interconnection project for an onshore wind farm in Greece.

The Kafireas II wind farm, currently under construction, is located in the southernmost part of the island of Evia. Hellenic Cables and Asso.subsea will design, manufacture, supply and install a 150 kV submarine cable system to connect the 330 MW wind farm to the mainland, where Kafireas II will be connected to Greece’s power transmission system at IPTO’s 150 kV Lavrion substation.