Completion of the ZEPH2 Project: Decarbonized Offshore Maintenance Vessel With Hybrid Hydrogen Propulsion

By June 18, 2024 4   min read  (672 words)

June 18, 2024 |

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The ZEPH2 consortium, winner of the Brittany Region’s cross-sector project call in June 2022 and comprising five companies (Zéphyr et Borée, Piriou, Sofresid Engineering, Entech, and ComposiTIC), announces the completion of the design studies for the ZEPH2 project aimed at the industrialization of a low-carbon offshore maintenance vessel.

A Low-Carbon Offshore Maintenance Vessel or CTV (Crew Transfer Vessel)

Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) are service vessels used to transfer technicians and equipment to wind turbines for installation and maintenance of offshore wind farms.

The goal of the ZEPH2 project was to create a CTV with a low carbon footprint through reduced energy consumption and the use of hydrogen to hybridize propulsion and power onboard consumption. The vessel will be decarbonized by approximately 50% to 70% compared to a conventional diesel-powered vessel, thanks to a hybridization of power by 30%.

The consortium, consisting of Zéphyr et Borée (shipowner and project leader), Piriou (naval architect and shipyard builder), Sofresid (engineering company), Entech (energy conversion specialist), and ComposiTIC (research institute), won this project call in June 2022 and has now delivered a study comprising a technical and economic proposal sufficient to offer a decarbonized vessel to offshore wind farm operators:

  • Completion of Preliminary Design Phase and Final Design Phase studies
  • Certification currently underway by Bureau Veritas (Approval In Principle)
  • Life Cycle Analysis performed by the University of Southern Brittany (UBS), a consortium partner.

The project is endorsed by the competitive clusters: Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique and EMC2.

Project financiers include: Brittany Region, European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Lorient Agglomeration, and Quimper Bretagne Occidentale agglomeration.

A Favorable Context

The offshore wind market is booming. France aims to increase its share of energy consumption from renewable sources to 33% by 2030. To achieve this, it must catch up in terms of the construction and operation of offshore vessels compared to Nordic countries that have taken the lead. Maintenance operations account for about 14% of GHG emissions over the lifecycle of offshore wind energy production. Therefore, the stakes are high.

France aims to reach an installed capacity of 2.4 GW by 2023, and about 5 GW by 2028 for 7 offshore wind farms. The already awarded parks include those of Saint-Nazaire, Saint-Brieuc, Fécamp, Courseulles-sur-Mer, Dieppe-Le Tréport, Yeu-Noirmoutier, Dunkirk, and AO5 Bretagne Sud. Other projects located in the English Channel, South Brittany, Mediterranean, and South Atlantic are currently under consultation.

In February 2022, the French president also announced the ambition to increase the installed capacity to 40 GW for 50 offshore wind farms by 2050, opening high market prospects.

The target market for the ZEPH2 project is the maintenance of wind farms in France and Europe; maintenance of the parks is ensured by several CTVs, with contracts lasting 5 to 10 years.

670 Tons of CO2eq Maritime Savings Per Vessel Per Year

The CTV of the ZEPH2 project will incorporate 800 kW of fuel cells and up to 350 kg of hydrogen, offering unmatched power in the maritime domain.

The technical implementation study has notably lifted integration and safety constraints related to the use of hydrogen on board the vessel and optimized the operation of the entire propulsion architecture. Other innovations such as the addition of bearing profiles (foils) and the use of composite materials have also been studied to improve the overall efficiency of the vessel and reduce hydrogen consumption. The proposed evolving design will allow achieving 70% decarbonization of the vessel’s operational phases depending on the distance of the wind farms and the envisaged operational profile.

A decarbonized CTV of at least 50% will achieve savings of approximately 670 tons of CO2eq per year compared to a classic diesel CTV and a reduction in diesel consumption of about 250 m³ per year.

Promoting the Emergence of a French Competitiveness Hub Dedicated to Marine Hydrogen

Once contracted, the ZEPH2 project will enter the detailed study phase followed by construction and then commissioning of a first vessel.

This project also contributes to the emergence of a French competitiveness hub that will contribute to the development of hydrogen as a marine fuel.


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