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The tale of a North Sea Giant

When North Sea Shipping AS discovered the efficiencies they could achieve with energy storage, they decided that their North Sea Giant, one of the offshore industry’s largest and most advanced subsea construction vessels, would be the first such vessel in the world to benefit. In 2017, Wärtsilä agreed to carry out the retrofit project.

Harald Torbjørn Klepsvik, Owner, North Sea Shipping AS:

“The relationship between Wärtsilä and North Sea Shipping is long established, and we have had ten vessels with Wärtsilä systems on board. This collaboration goes back many years, and we have always been challenging each other in various ways to find the best solutions. That is also why we started with the battery system. We contacted Wärtsilä and we sat down to discuss how to come up with a system that could deliver operational savings based on efficiency improvements.”

Battery solutions on other vessels have been done before, but not on this scale, and not according to this concept.
Sveinung Økland

Tore Markhus, General Manager, E&A Services, Wärtsilä Norway AS:

“In 2014, we carried out a modification to one of North Sea Shipping’s vessels, the Atlantic Guardian. The experience from that case caused the customer to see the actual amount they were saving in fuel costs. This pushed them towards examining what we could do with other vessels to make them even more efficient.

Discussions regarding North Sea Giant began in 2017. Throughout the year, we were looking – together with the customer – at the possible alternative solutions for this vessel. We began exploring the idea of combining traditional diesel engine operation with batteries and operating the vessel using fewer engines.”

Sveinung Økland, Operation Manager, North Sea Shipping AS:

“Battery solutions on other vessels have been done before, but not on this scale, and not according to this concept. So, by leveraging Wärtsilä’s background and competences, we knew this would work, although we also knew it might take some time to adjust and to tune the system being installed on the North Sea Giant. Such a complex system has never been installed on a sub-sea construction vessel. But the track record of the technology is certainly there, so we have every confidence that this really works.”

Tore Markhus:

“We at Wärtsilä have been involved in developing marine-power battery solutions for several years, with more and more cases emerging each year. This is something the offshore community has become increasingly interested in.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, however. For expansive installations such as this one, the project planning plays a significant role with a tailored solution being designed, even before any agreement is signed.”

This will be a backup system – the customer could still operate the vessel with all engines, but in addition they will have several megawatts in reserve available from the batteries.
Tore Markhus

Harald Torbjørn Klepsvik:

“Working with Wärtsilä on this case, we have had very fruitful meetings, as we always do. We begin by making sure that everybody understands what we want out of the system, before going into the detailed planning. The feedback stages have also been excellent, and Wärtsilä keeps us up to date consistently with all the necessary information needed to make crucial decisions leading up to the project execution.”

Tore Markhus:

”Vessels like the North Sea Giant operate with six diesel engines powering the electrical system on board. With this new installation, we are adding three energy storage units to that mix. This will be a backup system – the customer could still operate the vessel with all engines, but in addition they will have several megawatts in reserve available from the batteries.

When they really want to operate efficiently, they will run with only one engine connected to the grid, along with the battery units. In this way, the batteries will act as a power backup to handle low peaks in the systems if they suddenly require additional power for certain operations – on these occasions the batteries will kick in and cover that need. They will also work together with the engines in such a way that allows the engine to be operated at its optimal load level, which of course improves fuel consumption and reduces the exhaust emissions as well. “

Sveinung Økland:

“Systems like the one Wärtsilä has developed for us here will be the standard on all our vessels in future, that’s for sure. The industry’s increasing focus on climate change demands it. For today’s circumstances, the battery-hybrid solution is the most prudent technology, and it doesn’t take that much space to install it. Alternative options, with hydrogen for example, the installation takes a lot of space, not to mention that it’s not easy to get hold of hydrogen and the infrastructure is not in place yet. So, I believe that battery technology will play a major role in future new builds. And you can see the same thing happening with new ferries – everybody is including battery packages.”

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Tore Markhus:

The North Sea Giant is a DP3 vessel, which puts it in the most advanced category of vessels that apply dynamic positioning. Retrofitting an energy storage solution on this class of vessel has never been executed before, and the process actually required the applicable classification rules to be re-defined. This meant that in addition to planning an ambitious installation, we also had to work closely with the customer and the DNV-GL classification society to create new classification rules as well.”

Sveinung Økland:

“The community of operators in Norway and beyond is now very curious about this type of energy storage solution and want as much information as possible. This will be the new future. If they want to stay competitive, they just have to pursue it.”

Systems like the one Wärtsilä has developed for us here will be the standard on all our vessels in future, that’s for sure.
Sveinung Økland

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