Saturday, February 24, 2024

UK government funds first low-carbon floating wind installation vessel

The UK Government is supporting the development of a low-carbon installation vessel for the floating offshore wind market. Morek Engineering is leading a consortium that has won funding through the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, thanks in part to its track record in innovative vessel design and offshore operations.

The consortium includes Solis Marine Engineering, Tope Ocean, First Marine Solutions, and Celtic Sea Power. This funding will help advance the development of this new class of vessels and contribute to the growth of the low-carbon offshore wind industry.

“This will be a first-in-class low-carbon vessel designed specifically to meet the complex installation requirements of floating offshore wind farm moorings and foundations. The project aims to align the detailed requirements of the emerging Floating Wind sector with the objectives of the UK maritime decarbonization agenda,” said Bob Colclough, MD of Morek Engineering. “As the next era of offshore wind development moves towards using floating foundations, unlocking deeper sites, and accessing stronger winds further from shore, this will involve mooring floating foundations to support the world’s largest offshore wind turbines, some the size of the Eiffel Tower.”

The current offshore service fleet has limitations in terms of capability and capacity. In order to meet the ambitious Net Zero targets set by governments around the world, the offshore construction market will need to achieve a level of serial production that has never been seen before in offshore industries.

Floating offshore wind presents a unique challenge, as it requires a cost-effective solution for installing large moorings and floating foundation systems while minimizing carbon emissions during construction and maintenance. To tackle these challenges head-on, there is a need to develop the next generation of offshore wind construction vessels.

This project is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 4 (CMDC4), funded by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) and delivered by Innovate UK. This project is aimed at decarbonizing the UK domestic maritime sector, which is a crucial step towards achieving a sustainable future. The UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE) program, which has a budget of £206m, is playing a key role in this initiative.

Bob Colclough comments, “An extremely wide range of mooring and foundation technologies are expected in future floating offshore wind projects around the world. So, we are undertaking a detailed stakeholder and end-user engagement process so that the design of our new vessel takes account of this and is future-proof.”

The outline vessel design will be ready for engagement with classification societies to achieve approval in principle by early 2025.

Bob Colclough adds, “We are aiming to be included in the national shipbuilding strategy, cementing the UK position to deliver Net Zero 2050. Our next-generation vessel will help accelerate the growth of the floating offshore wind market around the world, providing low-carbon installation and maintenance.”