Project leaders Oasis Marine have partnered with Turbo Power Systems, Verlume, and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult to deliver the Offshore Charging Station, which has been awarded a share of the Department for Transport and Innovate UK’s £60m Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC) grant funding.
During the two-year project, offshore charging infrastructure will be developed for charging hybrid and electric crew transfer vessels (CTVs) and will be demonstrated over two phases.
The first phase will prove the transfer of power utilising Verlume’s battery and intelligent energy management technology, to charge a vessel via Oasis’ Power Buoy while at sea.
During the second phase the project will work with Vattenfall on technical and regulatory developments, aiming to lead to an on-turbine demonstration at their European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay.
AC power generated by the existing wind turbines will be supplied via Turbo Power Systems high power charging solution to the Oasis Power Buoy. During the demonstration a hybrid CTV will operate from Aberdeen Harbour to the wind farm, then connect and recharge from the Oasis Power Buoy whilst waiting in field as maintenance technicians work on the turbines.
A major barrier for the decarbonisation of the maritime sector is the range and duration at which electric and hybrid vessels can operate. Currently vessels can only be charged within ports and most wind farms are too far from shore to allow journeys to be fully completed on battery power. Enabling offshore charging from a zero-emission energy source will allow CTVs to operate on electric power for the majority of the time, extending operational range and reducing emissions.
In a statement, George Smith, managing director, Oasis Marine, said: “The ability to re-charge vessels offshore is crucial for decarbonising maritime. Initial sea trials of the Oasis Power Buoy were conducted in early 2022 and this CMDC funding allows for progression to full infrastructure testing. This technology promises to enable major carbon reductions and is a very encouraging development for the overall maritime industry to accelerate opportunities and confidence in electric and hybrid vessels.”
Turbo Power Systems will design, build and test a high-power DC power supply for the conversion of power from the wind turbine to the charging unit. Verlume will utilise its energy storage expertise, supplying a modular battery energy storage system with integrated intelligent energy management to enable early testing, and ORE Catapult will be responsible for CTV requirements, supporting a regulatory review and project management activities. The project is supported by Vattenfall, operators of Aberdeen Bay Windfarm.
Crew transfer vessels will be the primary focus of the project, but the concept could also be scaled for oil and gas vessels, as well as larger service operations vessel (SOV) daughter craft which are said to be an emerging vessel type set to increase in numbers as windfarms move farther from shore.
“Recharging in field is a critical enabler for the deployment of more electric support vessels,” said Lauren Hadnum, clean maritime manager at ORE Catapult. “This project is an exciting step in demonstrating not only recharge at sea, but also integration with a working wind farm. We are pleased to be able to support this SME-led project to deliver an industry ready solution for CTVs by 2025.”