Funding announced for first-in-class low-carbon installation vessel for floating offshore wind

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The UK Government has awarded funding to a consortium led by Morek Engineering to design a new class of low-carbon installation vessel for the floating offshore wind market.

The consortium has won the funding through the UK Government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition based on their proven track record in innovative vessel design and delivery of complex offshore operations. The consortium includes Morek Engineering, Solis Marine Engineering, Tope Ocean, First Marine Solutions and Celtic Sea Power.

Bob Colclough, MD of Morek Engineering, says: “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 decarbonisation agenda.

“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 which 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.”

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. CMDC4 is part of the Department’s UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE) programme, a £206m initiative focused on developing the technology necessary to decarbonise the UK domestic maritime sector.

Ian Godfrey, MD of Tope Ocean, explains: “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.”

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.”

 

For further information, contact

lynn@brandinnovation.co.uk

 

About the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition

In March 2022, the UK Government announced the biggest government investment ever in the UK commercial maritime sector, allocating £206m to UK SHORE, a new programme within the Department for Transport focused on decarbonising the maritime sector. UK SHORE is delivering a suite of interventions throughout 2022-2025 aimed at accelerating the design, manufacture and operation of UK-made clean maritime technologies and unlocking an industry-led transition to Net Zero.

The UK SHORE programme includes the flagship multi-year Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC) which provides match-funding to help bring pre-commercial technologies closer to market readiness. CMDC4 allocated £33m to 33 projects across the UK to deliver demonstrations, pre-deployment trials and feasibility studies between April 2024 – March 2025. The projects are supported by over 120 partners and will leverage more than £16m of private investment.

CMDC4 follows the successful first three rounds of the CMDC, which allocated over £95m to 105 projects. CMDC1 was launched in 2021, prior to UK SHORE.

 

The Project Partners

This project brings together a capable and experienced team of UK SMEs with direct end-user experience of the challenges of offshore operations in the oil and gas and offshore renewable energy sectors. Expertise within the team includes offshore operations planning and delivery, naval architecture and marine engineering, regulations governing the design of innovative vessels, Floating Offshore Wind stakeholder mapping and analysis and marine research and development project management.

This is a brief description of each project partner.

 

Morek Engineering Ltd (Morek) 

Morek Engineering is a specialist naval architecture and marine engineering consultancy focused on developing offshore renewable technologies. Morek engineers have over 40 years of combined experience in marine renewables, resulting in unparalleled knowledge of the challenges associated with this industry. They have been involved with many marine renewable energy installations globally, allowing them to technically appraise the eclectic range of engineering solutions associated with these novel devices. This experience and their technical expertise led to a uniquely creative approach to problem-solving, with direct applications to FOW.

Morek has established itself as an expert in the mooring system of FOW devices with a deep understanding of offshore installation and maintenance requirements complemented by design and numerical modelling expertise. Having played a vital role in delivering PR6 for ORE Catapult, Morek has demonstrated its ability in this area.  The engineering capabilities of Morek range from complex mooring analysis to heavy lift planning.

 

Solis Marine Engineering Limited (Solis) 

Solis Marine Engineering provides various engineering services, specialising in clean shipping and marine renewables. The team of naval architects cover the cradle-to-grave lifecycle of vessels and offshore structures, providing a unique set of skills for this project.

The team is working on several projects in the clean shipping sector, covering new builds and refits for existing vessels. They are undertaking an ammonia fuel conversion project for an 80m Platform Supply vessel (PSV), going through class and flag state requirements, structural updates, stability, and systems integration. Solis has also recently completed a concept design for classification society and MCA approval for a 150-passenger electric ferry, and in CMDC rounds 1 to 3, has worked on various powertrains with methanol, hydrogen, and electric vessel designs/conversions.

Alongside the clean shipping experience, Solis also specialises in the marine renewables sector, where they have worked with floating offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy. Work includes engineering analysis for offshore operations, class approval and offshore works. Solis has experience with hydrodynamic modelling, mooring and umbilical design and operations.

 

Tope Ocean Ltd (Tope) 

Tope is an engineering design and management consultancy established in 2023 to offer services to companies taking low-carbon marine products from an initial idea through to commercialisation. The company draws on MD Ian Godfrey’s long experience managing technology research, development and innovation activity in the marine sector.

 

Celtic Sea Power Ltd (CSP) 

Celtic Sea Power Ltd (CSP) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cornwall Council, operating as a research organisation with a mission to maximise the regional benefits of Floating Offshore Wind in the Celtic Sea. With a board and team drawn from industry, CSP represents influence and knowledge underpinned by the delivery of credible action.  CSP bring a deep working knowledge of FOW development in the Celtic Sea. This is primarily drawn from the ERDF Cornwall FOW Accelerator (CFA) delivery and ongoing engagement with ports, developers, local SMEs, local governments and relevant stakeholders.

 

First Marine Solutions Limited (FMS) 

Established in 2009 in the UK, FMS is a customer-focused service provider to the energy industry. The core business of FMS is mooring system design, supply, and installation. FMS has significant permanent mooring project management lifecycle experience across the energy sector, i.e., from initial engineering to system installation.

FMS are marine consultants with considerable in-house technical and project planning capabilities. We have a highly experienced team and can draw on hundreds of years of experience in the marine, engineering, design, and equipment industries.

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