Service sector

Biofuels gain traction in UK offshore wind services sector

Biorefinery facility for manufacturing HVO (file image courtesy of Neste)

Posted on Jul 23, 2021 5:23 PM by

The maritime executive

A second-generation biofuel derived from used vegetable oils is gaining traction in the UK’s offshore wind industry, which – despite its strong green credentials – still has to rely on diesel-powered crew transfer vessels (CTVs) and other work boats for its operations.

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) offers the convenience of replacing conventional biodiesel, but without the engine compatibility issues, bacterial degradation, and water contamination often encountered with high percentage methyl ester blends. fatty acid (FAME). It is approved by several diesel manufacturers, such as Volvo Penta, which has given the green light to HVO for use in its engines at mix rates of up to 100%.

As a simple and cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions, HVO is entering the UK offshore wind services industry. Seacat Services has adopted a 30 percent HVO / diesel blend (HVO30) for use in its recently revised Seacat Enterprise CTV. “Up to 96% of emissions from the offshore wind sector are generated while our vessels are chartered, during which time the choice of fuel is specified by the customer,” Seacat Managing Director Ian Baylis said in a statement. “Update Seacat company to the latest advancements in high-performance, high-performance vessel design and its efficient operation with HVO demonstrates to the industry what environmental improvements can be achieved now, with current technologies, as future solutions take shape. “

The next generation of Seacat vessels will be significantly more fuel efficient thanks to an optimized hull design and a specialized stability improvement system. With 30% operational fuel savings from these design improvements and (possibly) a 30% reduction in emissions using an HVO30 blend, these vessels would be well on their way to low carbon operations. .

ScottishPower Renewables is testing similar deal with operator CTV NR Maritime services. Under the charter, NR Marine provides vessel services for the East Anglia One farm using a blend of HVO30 fuel.

Courtesy of ScottishPower

“Developing low-emission vessels for use in operational wind farms is a real challenge for the industry and we are proud to lead the way,” said Charlie Jordan, East Anglia ONE Project Manager at ScottishPower Renewables. “As we continue to work towards Net Zero – and with the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Summit COP26 later this year – it is essential that we all do our part to ensure that our operations are as well. durable as possible. “

However, biofuels have their own sustainability challenges – even biofuels made from used vegetable oil. The quantity of raw material available is limited and will be in great demand to decarbonise the difficult to reduce aviation sector in the years to come. Environmental NGO Transport & Environment has warned that the adoption of vegetable oil-based biofuels in the European transport sector could accidentally attract imported and unsustainable raw materials – like palm oil grown on plantations or l soybean oil – via fraudulent labeling in the country of origin of the raw material.

“There are certain risks that [biofuel promotion policies] . . . could inadvertently result in the adoption of alternative fuels that are worse than [conventional] fossil fuels, “the group warned.” Biofuels from crops do not significantly reduce carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels, in most cases resulting in much higher emissions. “