Ulstein launches zero-emission, hybrid offshore vessel design

The ULSTEIN J102 zero emission wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV), which features a hydrogen fuel cell system and ‘relatively small’ battery energy storage system (BESS), can operate 75% of the time in zero emission mode.

Using readily available technology, the additional cost is limited to less than 5% of the total CAPEX, the Norwegian shipyard claims.

Ulstein noted that, while most new jack-up designs feature a battery hybrid system in addition to diesel gen sets with a future option for hydrogen powered fuel cell system, these designs are hampered by the weight and cost of the high-power battery energy storage system (BESS).

Rather than waiting for technology to mature ‘to perfection’ and develop a design that is prepared for future hydrogen powered fuel cells, Ulstein says 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 circa 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 hydrogen hybrid system of the ULSTEIN J102 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 company explained.

‘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’, said Stroo. ‘It creates flexibility to operate the vessel worldwide, even when bunker infrastructure is not yet present.’

Edwin van Leeuwen, managing director of Ulstein’s Rotterdam design office, added: ‘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. Hydrogen is one of the most promising zero-emission fuels for offshore vessels and we want to be leading in developing sustainable ships.’

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry