Technical Working Group To Accelerate Vessel Decarbonization

The second meeting of trade body The Workboat Association’s new technical working group, which would have formed a key part of the Seawork schedule has taken place virtually instead.

The group, working alongside lead partner Chartwell Marine, aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of the workboat sector, in line with the Clean Maritime Plan, by taking a proactive approach to technical support for the supply chain and future technologies. Along-side decarbonisation efforts, the group expects to turn its attention to compliance, safety and specific rule requirements further down the line.

This second (Zoom) meeting of the group, virtually attended by vessel operators from all over Europe took place on Tuesday 9th June 2020, and featured a presentation from Volvo Penta on its Tier III propulsion packages, including detailed information about its SCR exhaust gas aftertreatment system.

This was followed up by Crown Oils, who’s presentation on its HVO (Hydro Vegetable Oil) diesel fuel dispelled many myths about this synthetically produced form of biodiesel. The older types of biodiesel are particularly prone to water and bacterial attack, as many vessel operators have found out to their cost in the last couple of decades. HVO is refined from the same feedstock as traditional biodiesel, but it is refined into ‘a long chain paraffinic fuel’, which can give it an ‘in tank’ lifespan of up to 10 years compared with traditional biodiesel’s 6 months.

This tied in with the earlier Volvo Penta presentation as Volvo have now rubber stamped this HVO for safe use in its marine engines. Because it is produced from vegetable oil, it shares biodiesel’s vastly improved carbon footprint over fossil fuels.

Carolina Escudero from Vattenfall Network solutions outlined the Swedish energy major’s financial support mechanism for companies wishing to ‘green’ their technologies, such as by repowering vessels. Vattenfall’s offering effectively takes over ownership of the asset and leases it back to the operator, reducing the CAPEX load of making the changes. Importantly, unlike bank finance, Vattenfalls’s offering also maintains the asset, covering repairs and possible out of pocket expenses for the duration of the agreement.

Using the combined contacts of Chartwell Marine and The Workboat Association means that forthcoming meetings of the group will feature a broad range of industry stakeholders as both participants and speakers. Engine manufacturers, OEMs and vessel operators can share viewpoints and long-term goals in a transparent, non-commercial setting – supporting industries such as offshore wind as they look to a coordinated approach to technical challenges.

Andy Page, Managing Director, Chartwell Marine, and Chairman of the Working Group said: “The workboat sector is at a crossroads. To truly activate its global potential, key stakeholders must come together and discuss any obstacles from a technical perspective. I wanted to share my own experience in hybrid boats and hull forms, fuel burn and efficient operations with a view to fostering collaboration. It has been great to see so many others with completely different knowledge bases engaging to create an educational open forum – which ultimately benefits the whole industry.”

By Jake Frith

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