Next-Generation Crew Transfer and Service Operation Vessels

Published 20 March 2019

Reducing fossil fuel consumption in offshore wind support vessels.

The Problem

ORE Catapult SOV and CTV Offshore Wind Innovation
The Esvagt Njord SOV at work at Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm.

The offshore wind industry is under constant pressure to reduce costs.


The Contracts for Difference (CfD) Round 2 auction in 2017 saw strikes prices of £74.75 and £57.5 per MWh being allocated to projects to be delivered in 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively. In contrast, CfD Round 1 in 2015 saw strikes prices of £119.89 and £114.39 per MWh for projects to be delivered in 2017/18 and 2018/19, respectively. With fuel costs often being the second highest operational expenditure and operations and maintenance (O&M) contributing to approximately 20-25% of the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCoE), some of the expected saving will need to be made in reducing vessel costs. Low-carbon fuels offer an opportunity to reduce these costs, while at the same time also reducing emissions.

The Paris Agreement in 2015 announced an immediate emissions peak in their attempt to create ‘net-zero emissions’ before the next century. This has been met with various port and marine regulations to reduce emissions produced by the maritime industry. To achieve genuine green credentials, it is imperative to reduce consumption of fossil fuels wherever possible. The main ways of improving the green credentials of offshore wind vessels include:

  • Reduce fuel consumption by reducing vessel drag, mass or optimising existing propulsion system
  • Reduce emissions by using carbon capture technologies
  • Improve logistics for better route planning
  • Reduce emission by using alternative fuel sources, including hybrid propulsion systems.

The Next-Generation CTVs and SOVs Project

Working together with the Scottish Government, Ferguson Marine Engineering, Marine Design International and TNEI, the Catapult is investigating the latter by:

  • Performing a review of current and potential technologies for offshore wind vessels.
  • Conducting a Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) study to investigate the feasibility of manufacturing low-carbon vessels for offshore wind using Scottish expertise.
  • Holding a dissemination workshop for academia and industry, highlighting initial findings and collecting industry stakeholder feedback that guided further work.
  • Initiating a further study into in-field charging requirements for low-carbon vessels.

The project’s results will be disseminated when research concludes later in 2019.

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