As both a potential producer and user of clean fuels, the UK’s offshore wind industry is in a unique position to act as a springboard for that broader maritime decarbonisation. The energy generated by offshore wind farms is likely to form part of the maritime fuel mix of the future. Collaborative action from industry leaders across the supply chain is imperative, as is States’ cooperation in helping de-risk these investments and facilitating the path for the industry.
The North Sea Basin is a regional hub for energy production and has just under three quarters of the world’s installed offshore wind capacity (i). The five European countries with the largest amount of installed offshore wind capacity (United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark) are all within the North Sea area. Combined, these countries account for just under 98% of all grid-connected offshore wind turbines in Europe (ii).
The offshore wind sector relies heavily on vessels for the operations and maintenance of the infrastructure needed for energy generation. However, these same vessels are greenhouse gas emitters, increasing the carbon footprint of the offshore wind sector. Operation Zero aims to demonstrate the leading role of the offshore wind industry in climate action in the maritime sector’s decarbonisation.
Operation Zero, launched at COP26, is an industry coalition working together to accelerate the decarbonisation of the operations and maintenance vessels in the North Sea offshore wind sector, with a view to making zero-emission operations and maintenance vessels a reality in the region by 2025.
The initiative is convening a coalition of 28 founding members from across the offshore wind supply chain from the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, including industry majors Siemens Gamesa, Orsted, RWE, Vattenfall, ScottishPower Renewables, Equinor, ABP, Lloyds Register, Bibby Marine, North Star Renewables and the ORE Catapult.
This Declaration was signed by the initial cohort of members on the 9th November 2021. It outlines the potential for this segment to be a first mover as well as the group’s mission statement and ambitions, and the pledges of members to work together towards decarbonisation of the sector.
In signing the declaration, members pledge to:
This targeted and collaborative action should allow for quick and efficient results, as well as accelerating the deployment of clean energy – from production to consumption. Furthermore, by demonstrating that achieving these commitments is possible, the coalition aims to encourage other regions and shipping sectors to follow suit and act to transform their own fleets. Operation Zero is just one step in the right direction towards achieving our Net Zero targets, and to drive the change that we need to see internationally.
As part of Operation Zero, ORE Catapult and the Workboat Associations delivered a technology roadmap in June 2021 for the decarbonisation of offshore wind operations and maintenance vessels. This was intended to bring together an evidence base for the sector’s decarbonisation and provide an initial steer for the work of the coalition.
The roadmap suggested that the industry will build as many as 1,400 new vessels between now and 2050 just for O&M, including more than 300 SOVs, as we scale from the 25GW (iii) of European operational offshore wind we have today to 400GW by 2050 (with 100GW based in the UK), which equates to a sixteen-fold growth in less than 30 years.
ORE Catapult is excited to add Operation Zero to the diverse group of projects within clean maritime that it is involved in. The Catapult looks to ensure that offshore wind plays a key role in forging the emerging clean maritime industry of the 21st Century – driving rapid innovation, improving sustainability and levelling up through the creation of high-value jobs in key maritime clusters across the UK.
As part of Operation Zero, ORE Catapult will work with both government and industry on this decarbonisation agenda in the months and years ahead, committing fully supporting the future work under the initiative.
i. IRENA (2021), Renewable Energy Statistics 2021
ii. WindEurope (2021), Offshore Wind in Europe – key trends and statistics in 2020