Despite being a green energy, the construction of offshore wind turbines is inherently carbon intensive – which is a challenge now being addressed.
Morek’s consortium has won funding through the UK government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition based on its track record in vessel design and delivery of offshore operations. The consortium includes Morek Engineering, Solis Marine Engineering, Tope Ocean, First Marine Solutions and Celtic Sea Power.
Morek Engineering managing director Bob Colclough said: “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.
“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 limited capability and capacity. To reach the ambitious net zero targets set out by the UK government and other governments around the world, the offshore construction market will need to reach a serial production level that is unprecedented in offshore industries. Floating offshore wind needs a cost-effective solution to deliver serialised installation of huge moorings and floating foundation systems, whilst minimising carbon emissions during the construction and maintenance of the next generation wind farms. We are going to develop the next generation of offshore wind construction vessels, meeting the challenge head on.”
Tope Ocean managing director Ian Godfrey added: “To indicate the scale of the decarbonisation challenge, greenhouse gas emissions from offshore wind farm operation and maintenance vessels constituted more than 3% of domestic shipping emissions in the UK in 2022. With ambitious targets to develop the UK’s offshore wind capacity from 14 GW in 2023 to 50 GW by 2050, this percentage share is likely to rise to well over 10% as this pipeline is realised through a ‘business-as-usual’, fossil fuel vessel scenario. So it is vital to pioneer a new approach to offshore service vessels, to embrace clean maritime and net zero objectives.
“We will undertake a highly detailed feasibility study into the requirements of the emerging global floating offshore wind sector for a new class of low-carbon installation vessel. The new vessel will be designed to carry out complex, high-energy construction tasks within the duty cycle constraints of future low and zero-carbon fuel systems. It will set a new standard for environmental performance associated with the construction and maintenance of floating offshore wind and the wider marine transportation sector.”
The outline vessel design is expected to be ready for engagement with classification societies to achieve approval in principle by early 2025.