Clean Energy Autonomous Vessel

As part of our ongoing commitment to innovation within the clean energy sector, Houlder has devised an unmanned remotely controlled vessel concept that will cut costs and boost safety for offshore wind farm maintenance. A team comprising Naval Architects Arun Pillai (pictured) Akhil Nair, David Pugh and Marta Więcka with Mechanical Engineer Luiz Deminicis worked on the project. They have elaborated on the concept design in an article in the September – October issue of Ship & Boat International published by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA).

Clean Energy Arun Pillai

The work formed part of the joint industry Windfarm Autonomous Ship Project (WASP). This explored the technical, regulatory and societal issues related to using autonomous surface vessels to support offshore wind farm operations and maintenance. The project, part funded by Innovate UK, set out to verify the benefits and build the case for the use of autonomous vessels.

Previous research has found that vessels can account for as much as 60% of an offshore wind farm’s operating costs, of which crewing makes up a significant proportion. These costs could be significantly reduced through crew-free transfer of cargoes between shore and offshore wind turbines. Human error during cargo handling has also been proved to be the primary cause of accidents. Houlder has developed a concept vessel that could improve performance while remaining practical and cost-effective to build and operate.

Projects aimed at driving efficiencies, such as this, alongside similar innovations in emission reduction and alternative fuel use, are becoming more central to Houlder’s business as clean energy increases in importance.

The article is a truncated and revised version of the paper “Design Of An Innovative Autonomous Vessel To Support Wind Farm O&M”, presented by Houlder at RINA’s Design & Operation Of Wind Farm Support Vessels conference, hosted in February 2019.

Contact us through or +44 (0)20 7283 1220 for more information on this or any other of our clean energy naval architecture projects.

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