Damen Shipyards Group has unveiled a fully electric Service Operations Vessel (SOV) equipped with offshore charging capabilities, harnessing electricity provided directly from offshore wind farms.
Damen said the vessel, measuring 70 meters by 17 meters, marks a significant step towards reducing emissions in the maintenance of offshore wind farms.
Damen initiated the development of SOV three years ago with the goal of improving the sustainability of vessel operations in offshore wind farms. To make the concept viable, Damen had to develope offshore charging capabilities and also evaluated the business case, taking into account the increase in capital expenditure (CAPEX) costs.
To achieve offshore charging capabilities, Damen joined forces with UK-based MJR Power & Automation, a company that had previously developed an offshore charging system for a crew transfer vessel.
The charging process utilizes a motion-compensated gangway controlled from the wheelhouse, eliminating the need for manual interaction. Charging of the vessel occurs while in low-power “green” DP mode, using less energy than the hotel load. A full charge can be achieved in a few hours using energy from a single turbine.
The charging system meets international safety standards, including IEC/IEEE 80005-1, and is seeking DNV AIP approval. It is also designed to comply with upcoming offshore charging standards being developed by DNV UK and Norway.
MJR has developed a 4MW charger connector for the vessel and is working on an 8MW version to charge larger vessels up to 90 meters.
“The charging system is designed to be safe, convenient, and reliable, with rapid connection and disconnection of the charge umbilical,” explains Paul Cairns, Managing Director of MJR. “From the outset, our priority has been to ensure the safety of personnel and the integrity of the vessel and offshore assets under all conditions. Charging from an offshore asset offers optimal practicality, reducing costs and emissions while optimizing efficiency, without exposing personnel or infrastructure to potential hazards.”
Damen conducted a business case analysis to assess the viability of the vessel concept. The analysis considered investment costs, energy costs, operational profiles, and more. Collaborating with stakeholders, the results showed a positive return on investment with payback periods ranging from 5 to 15 years.
The SOV 7017 E is equipped with a 15MWhr lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery, offering a full day of power and improved safety performance. Damen says LFP batteries are advantageous as they are less dependent on sensitive raw materials like cobalt.
The design also has full redundancy and can operate using conventional diesel propulsion when there is no access to electricity.
The vessel incorporates Damen’s DPX-DRIVE™ layout, which includes four azimuth thrusters for independent propulsion in any direction and reduced underwater noise levels. The vessel also has ample storage space, workshops, and deck space for transportation and work tasks. It has 60 cabins for comfortable accommodation of the crew and up to 40 technicians.
“The product launch of the SOV 7017 E demonstrates that the technology is available to fully electrify offshore operations,” says Mark Couwenberg, Damen Product Manager Service Operations Vessels. “The reduction in operating expenses achieved by harnessing energy directly from offshore wind farms makes a compelling business case for this model. However, we cannot achieve this alone. Turning this concept into a reality requires collaboration throughout the entire value chain, with shipbuilders, vessel operators, and wind farm developers working together for mutual benefit. We look forward to participating in such collaborations as we advance this concept. Together, we can make offshore energy production more sustainable.”
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