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£33m funding awarded to green maritime technology projects

The winners of £33 million of government funding to develop green technologies for ports and ships have been announced.

33 projects across will deliver demonstrations, factory trials and feasibility studies of innovative clean maritime technologies.aerial photography of boat making zig zag way on body of water

The funding comes from the fourth round of the government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC4), which focuses on developing a range of clean maritime technologies including electric, hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, wind power and more.

CMDC4 builds on three previous rounds, which allocated over £95 million to 105 projects and leveraged over £45 million in private investment.

Mike Biddle, Innovate UK Executive Director for Net Zero, said: ‘The maritime sector continues to demonstrate a keen appetite for decarbonisation, which is highlighted by the 33 winning projects of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 4.

‘Today’s announcement shows UK industry is embracing research and development as a solution to a global industry-wide problem and I’m inspired by the ambition of our maritime innovators.

‘The CMDC4 projects will build upon the proven success of previous rounds where the Department for Transport and Innovate UK have worked in partnership to show the UK is a leading voice in maritime’s green transition.’

The projects benefitting from the latest funding are:

AirWing Maximised Thrust Wind Propulsion Demonstration

This project focusses on the development, testing, and deployment of a novel maritime Wind Propulsion system, AirWing – a rigid wingsail which utilises a patented innovation to achieve highly efficient thrust outputs. AirWing acts an auxiliary propulsion system, reducing carbon emissions and fuel costs by 10-30% for retrofits and up to 50% for new build vessels.

The project’s primary goal is to conduct a real-world demonstration of the AirWing technology on board a UK owned, operated, flagged, and classed 130-metre cargo shipping vessel. This will demonstrate the fuel savings and emissions-reducing capabilities of AirWing, whilst showcasing the UK as a global leader in design and manufacturing of clean maritime technology and accelerate the transition to zero emission shipping.

The project will be led by GT Green Technologies who will be supported by strategic partners who will support design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA) as well as supply chain mapping.


Demonstration of a Smart Zero-Carbon Vessel Design

With the ability to refuel or recharge only presenting itself occasionally, ships have to carry enough fuel-energy for the duration of their journey.

Methanol and its conversion to hydrogen via reforming technology presents opportunities to decarbonise the marine industry. Whereas hydrogen presents challenges around storage and safety, methanol can be stored safely and effectively in standard atmospheric conditions. Methanol can also be produced with virtually zero carbon emissions, from sustainable biomass.

WSW Marine and Chartwell Marine partnered to create a fully methanol-powered zero-carbon vessel. This design is complete, safety assessed and the new funding will be used to build a demonstrator vessel.

This vessel will pave the way for designing and building larger vessels such as Crew Transfer Vessels for the expanding offshore wind industry in the UK and beyond. It will also give confidence to other UK builders, especially in the leisure sector, that methanol fuelling can be a legitimate alternative to traditional diesel.


Virtual Bunkering for Electric Vessels Demo

The Virtual Bunkering for Electric Vessels demonstration will show how how batteries on electric vessels can be utilised when not in use for propulsion, to deliver energy storage and flexibility services to harbours, ports and the grid. This enabling infrastructure has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions on a system and a site level, accelerating the transition to clean maritime.

The project will produce the first vessels capable of bi-directional power transfer, set a standard for other vessel manufacturers, develop a vessel-to-grid management platform, provide world leading research and development of a commercial product for customers.


Ultra-efficient electric boats

Optima are developing an innovative range of electric boats for the leisure marine market and for commercial applications such as water taxis. Optima have developed an ultra-efficient hull that significantly reduces energy consumption, enabling much greater range to be achieved under battery power compared to other electric boats, whilst still providing a top speed of 15-20 knots.

This project develops and optimises a 13m version of the Optima hull suitable for both leisure and commercial applications. Range under battery power is up to 150 miles with much greater comfort and safety compared to a conventional planing hull.


PALM Charger

The PALM Charger is an innovative method of achieving recharging marine EVs offshore. It allows a vessel to hook up to an offshore mounted charging point in a single winching operation from its back deck. Minimal bespoke outfitting is needed, no active control systems are used and there is no personnel transfer. The connection operation is swift and rugged.

The core infrastructure trials will comprise a 14-day offshore deployment of a test rig onto a moored platform off Orkney. A marine vessel will make repeated connections and disconnections using the prototype PALM Charger system in a range of sea conditions.

Apollo will provide overall project management and engineering, providing their prototype PALM Charger system. The European Marine Energy Centre will lead the testing operations, working with Leask Marine to set up a test rig and undertake vessel connection/ disconnection operations. As a marine contractor, Leask Marine represent a group of potential future customers, informing the marine operational practicalities and market interest.

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