A consortium led by Bibby Marine has secured matching funding from the U.K. government for the development of what is poised to become the world’s first zero-emission electric service operation vessel (eSOV). This groundbreaking vessel will feature a robust 20 MWh battery system and dual fuel methanol engines for backup, complemented by essential shore-charging infrastructure. The eSOV’s construction aims to deliver not only substantial emission reductions but also cost savings, while simultaneously showcasing the United Kingdom’s leadership in maritime content and design.
Joining forces with Bibby Marine are prominent partners such as the Port of Aberdeen, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, Kongsberg, DNV, Shell, and Liverpool John Moores University.
The eSOV project is a recipient of funding through the Zero Emissions Vessels and Infrastructure competition (ZEVI), which was introduced in February 2023. As part of ZEVI, the U.K. Department for Transport has allocated over GBP 80 million to support 10 flagship projects, involving 52 organisations spanning the U.K., dedicated to conducting real-world demonstration projects for clean maritime research and development.
“We are excited to receive this funding and to work with our partners to launch the world’s first eSOV – the first new vessel for Bibby Marine in five years,” said Bibby Marine CEO, Nigel Quinn. “This project is the natural progression of our decarbonisation journey, which began in 2019, to find the right solution to achieve our net-zero goals.
“We strive to be the U.K.’s cleanest and most committed SOV operator, and our commitment to innovation and sustainability drives us towards these zero-emission solutions,” said Quinn. “This project is a crucial part of this vision and is in keeping with our own Environmental and Social Governance framework and net zero targets. The project will catapult our efforts for our own green future, resulting in Bibby Marine having one of the most advanced, efficient, and environmentally friendly SOVs on the market.”
Andrew Macdonald, director of development and operations at ORE Catapult, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Bibby and partners in a project to create the world’s first zero-emission e-SOV – delivering a vessel capable of operating solely on 20MWh of batteries.
“ORE Catapult will play an important role in understanding the lifecycle fuel savings of a zero-emission vessel, and what can be done to maximise U.K. content within this market.
“This project will strengthen and demonstrate the ability of UK industry as a partner in design, manufacture and certification of the 300 vessels of this kind needed in Europe by 2050.”
Lucas Ribeiro, regional manager, Region West Europe at DNV said: “At DNV we are very pleased to have been chosen as the preferred classification partner for the first zero-emission U.K. e-SOV. We look forward to working closely with Bibby Marine and the consortium partners on this innovative design.
“The number of fully electric and hybrid vessels will surge over the next few years and continuing development on these technologies will be a key part of the maritime industry’s transition to a zero-carbon future. DNV is looking forward to combining our extensive technical, offshore, renewable and battery experience, working in ensuring a successful fully compliant and future proof vessel delivery.”
“Shell is delighted to be part of this consortium, verifying the framework to manage maritime risk for the world’s first zero-emission e-SOV,” said Alexandra Ebbinghaus, GM marine decarbonisation at Shell: “This is an exciting project that will push the industry forward and help decarbonise short-sea shipping, whilst continuing to prioritise safe and efficient operations. We look forward to supporting our long-term customer, Bibby Marine, as well as strengthening our collaboration with Kongsberg Maritime, DNV, the Port of Aberdeen and other consortium members.”