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Decarbonizing marine transport and offshore oil & gas infrastructure is a critical and complex undertaking that will occur over several decades. However, there are steps companies can take today to reduce their carbon footprint materially.
Transitioning to a low-carbon future will be a monumental task that will require massive investment and have a profound impact on the geopolitical landscape, particularly on the oil & gas-producing countries of the world. Moreover, the changes will create entirely new global dynamics, with opportunities for some and concerns for others, the cost of which we are only beginning to come to terms with.
Despite the challenges, substantial progress is being made toward creating a greener and more sustainable energy system. At Siemens Energy, we are seeing first-hand a willingness from companies to embrace new technologies and rethink traditional ways of working — all in the name of decarbonization.
The North Sea has played a crucial role in supplying power for Europe through its oil and gas fields. Now, the region is in a prime position to take a leading role in the global Energy Transition – for example, through the deployment of offshore wind. Offshore wind can replace a large part of coal-based generation. The total potential for economically viable wind in the North Sea is equivalent to all existing coal-fired power plants in Europe.
The expansion of offshore wind farms, the offshore production of hydrogen, and the storage of CO2 in empty gas fields will make the North Sea an exemplary region for Europe as it moves towards a climate-neutral energy system by 2050. We are currently in discussions with several customers to deploy our BlueWind solution, which combines offshore floating wind turbines, energy storage, and grid converters to provide clean, reliable power to drilling and production facilities. In addition, the power generated by the wind turbines reduces the requirement to run onboard diesel gen-sets or gas turbines, leading to a corresponding reduction in emissions. The concept can also be applied to floating solar farms.
While renewables-based microgrids are considered novel for the industry, the use of energy storage by itself is not. Siemens Energy’s BlueVault lithium-ion battery solution has now been installed in more than 70 marine applications worldwide, including in both hybrid (i.e., diesel-electric) drilling rigs and platform supply vessels (PSVs) and/or service operation construction support – vessels (SOV / CSOV) some of Europe’s largest all-electric passenger ferries.In the case of hybrid systems, the batteries make it possible to operate diesel engines at their peak efficiency, leading to reduced fuel consumption and lower NOx and CO2 emissions.
Similarly, on the shipping front, using carbon-neutral eFuels as a replacement for diesel presents tremendous opportunities for decarbonization. Despite a gradual de-fossilization of the marine fuel mix, the shipping industry’s global share of CO₂ emissions is forecasted to increase from 2.6% to 3.5% over the next three decades (DNV-GL).
eMethanol, which is derived by combining green hydrogen with CO2, is one of several solutions that can be used to address this.
Siemens Energy was recently awarded a contract by European Energy to build an electrolyzer plant in Denmark. The Danish company is developing the world´s first large-scale commercial eMethanol production facility. End-users of the eMethanol will include the likes of Maersk and the fuel retailer Circle K (among others). The start of commercial production is planned for the second half of 2023.
We have also had the privilege of working on several groundbreaking decarbonization efforts in the subsea sector.
For example, Siemens Energy was awarded a contract to supply a high-voltage wet-mate electrical connector for a subsea compression system – a subsea gas field to use subsea compression powered directly from shore. Siemens Energy is providing the high-voltage wet-mate connector for the project – the first ever qualified to the IEC/IEEE 61886-1standard (formally SEPS SP-1001) and the world’s highest rated subsea wetmate connector.
The 45kV connector will provide high-voltage power to the compression system located directly on the seabed at the gas field, eliminating the need for offshore facilities topside, thereby reducing energy consumption associated with topside structure manufacture and operations. The subsea compression system will allow gas compression to occur near the well which is more efficient and increases production rates. This will result in a reduction in energy consumption and lower carbon emissions over the field’s production life versus a conventional topsides compression system. Siemens Energy are now considering the Spectron 45 technology for even higher voltage wetmate connectors at 66kV and beyond which also opens other energy markets such as Floating Offshore Wind.
These are just a few examples of many where companies have been able to leverage established technologies to reduce their carbon footprint. Indeed, it is only the beginning. As the Energy Transition progresses, it is essential for us all to embrace the idea that the journey to net-zero is not one we can embark on alone. Success will require collaboration, co-creation, and strong partnerships which make full use of everyone’s respective strengths, expertise, and experience.