A £500,000 project to support the transition to carbon-free fuels for the Shetland Islands maritime industry has received backing from the UK government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC).
The NEPTUNE project, funded by the Department for Transport and carried out in partnership with Innovate UK, will develop a Modeling and Decision Support System (DEMOSS) tool that will help analyze, define and develop plans to support the transition.
It is led by the University of Strathclyde in partnership with Ricardo UK, Babcock International and the Shetland Islands Council and aligns with the archipelago’s net zero target by 2030.
The first phase of the project will collect data on the types of marine vessels operating from Shetland and their unique characteristics to create highly accurate ‘digital twin models’ – or virtual representations – of them and their land-based infrastructure of support.
The researchers will then determine which zero-carbon technologies the different vessels could switch to and enter the twin models into a digital dashboard that will monitor the flow of renewable fuels from “well to wake”. ‘Well-to-wake’ carbon dioxide emissions from the Shetland Islands maritime industry currently stand at around 300 kilotonnes per year.
The results of the study will help researchers assess the impact of zero-carbon fuel supply in terms of storage space needed, annual amount of renewable electricity required, and other factors, such as land and water, needed to match the digital pattern.
Professor Evangelos Boulougouris, from the Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Engineering Martine at Strathclyde, said: “Ambitions to transition to a Net-Zero economy create different challenges across the UK. The Shetland Islands have a unique maritime ecosystem and require significant investment to achieve Net-Zero status.
“The modeling for this project needs to be very precise to capture the requirements of a large and diverse fleet of vessels and their unique operating characteristics, and this will be a particularly innovative aspect of this project.
“The model will help reduce the cost of planning and implementing a carbon-free energy system for Shetland and could also be used for other islands or ports.
DEMOSS will provide virtual testing of solutions before implementing zero carbon solutions on ships, giving owners the confidence they need before moving to cleaner marine solutions.
James Mullineux, Head of Digital at Ricardo, said, “Ricardo is a trusted engineering services provider supporting the decarbonization of the global transportation and energy sectors. We are proud that our expertise in digital engineering, including digital twin and hydrogen technology, can reduce the time, cost and risk for Shetlanders in achieving Net-Zero status.
Councilor Steven Coutts, Leader of the Shetland Islands Council, said: “The NEPTUNE project will help facilitate the transformation of Shetland’s current reliance on fossil fuels into renewable and affordable energy for shipping and infrastructure. support, associated industries and communities.
Neil Young, Director of Engineering and Technology at Babcock International, said: “Babcock is delighted to be working alongside our partners on this new project. This will allow us to share our global expertise in ship design, future fuels and technologies to ensure that ship owners and operators in the maritime sector select the optimal solution.
Simon Edmonds, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Innovate UK, said: “As the UK prepares to host COP26 in the maritime city of Glasgow, it is great that we can announce funding for these fantastic projects in the maritime sector that will help the UK achieve its net zero targets. From this competition we saw a very high level of demand, we saw the best of British ideas from across the country. It’s clear that not only does the UK have a great maritime history, but also a brighter, greener future.
Project NEPTUNE aligns with Project ORION, set up in April 2020, which aims to help transform Shetland into an international clean energy hub under ambitious plans that will see major oil and gas fields become net zero by 2030.
Strathclyde is a partner in Project ORION, which will see onshore and offshore wind power harnessed to power rigs, homes and businesses and produce green hydrogen at scale, replacing fossil fuels by providing renewable energy affordable.
ORION will also see port facilities, including Sullom Voe, powered by wind power and redeveloped to support the offshore wind sector and for the export of green hydrogen to the UK mainland and