Ulstein: Zero emission wind turbine installation is “today’s reality”

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Ulstein’s J102 hydrogen-hybrid zero-emission WTIV design. [IMAGE: Ulstein]

Ulstein: Zero emission wind turbine installation is “today’s reality”

Norwegian shipbuilder and designer Ulstein has unveiled a hydrogen hybrid design offshore wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV), the Ulstein J102, that can operate 75% of the time in zero emission mode.

Ulstein says that, using readily available technology, the additional cost is less than 5% of the total CAPEX.

Most new jack-up designs now feature a battery hybrid system in addition to diesel gen sets, with a future option for hydrogen powered fuel cell system. However the downsides of using a high-power battery energy storage system (BESS) are its heavy weight and cost. This is not beneficial in a WTIV jack-up design, where weight savings are essential for minimizing elevated weight and optimizing the variable deck load.

Ulstein says that, rather than opting for technology to be matured to perfection and making a design that is prepared for future installation of hydrogen powered fuel cells, it has taken a pragmatic, yet realistic approach.

“We have carefully analysed the operational cycle of WTIVs and looked at the power demand in the various modes of operations,” says Ko Stroo, Product Manager at Ulstein. “This analysis showed that around 75% of its time, a WTIV is in jacked-up position performing crane operations. Using a combination of a hydrogen fuel cell system and a relatively small battery energy storage system (BESS) is then sufficient to meet the overall power demand on board and crane peak loads.”

“The same design philosophy as on our first hydrogen powered SX190 design, resulted in a much more attractive business case when applied to a turbine installation vessel,” says Edwin van Leeuwen, managing director of Ulstein’s Rotterdam design office.

The hydrogen hybrid system of the Ulstein J102 WTIV design has been developed in such a way, that future developments in hydrogen technology can easily be fitted into the vessel without major modifications.

“The limited availability of hydrogen bunker infrastructure in ports is often seen as a major hurdle. With our modular storage lay-out, we want to break the chicken and egg dilemma,” says Stroo. ‘It creates flexibility to operate the vessel worldwide, even when bunker infrastructure is not yet present.”

“The strong focus on renewable energy and emission reduction to meet worldwide climate goals should also be reflected by investments in cleaner operations when installing offshore wind turbines,” says Leeuwen. “Hydrogen is one of the most promising zero-emission fuels for offshore vessels and we want to be leading in developing sustainable ships.”

Main features of Ulstein’s J102 hydrogen-hybrid zero-emission design are:

  • CO2 reduction per year: 4,000 mt
  • Emission reduction per installation cycle: 25 %
  • H2 fuel cell system: PEM fuel cell
  • H2 storage system: 7 x 40 ft containers compressed H2
  • Battery energy storage
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