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  • Writer's pictureSarah Whiteford

Maersk world first battery install, MARAD grants, BladeBUG turbine inspection robot

It’s Good News Monday!

This Monday we talk about:

  1. Maersk breaks new ground with battery installation in AHTS vessel

  2. MARAD Announces Nearly $11 Million in Grants for America’s Marine Highways

  3. Investments will enhance vessel positioning services

  4. U.S. Seeks to Approve Dozens of Offshore Wind Projects in Years to Come

  5. Tech pioneers test robotic solution for wind sector’s ‘millions and millions’ of bolts

  6. Sixteen global shipping companies slowed cargo ships off California coast to protect blue whales and blue skies

Maersk Minder on the water

“Maersk Minder is believed to be the first AHTS to be fitted with a hybrid-battery solution (source: Maersk)”. Image from Riviera.

Maersk Supply Service is installing a hybrid-battery system on one of it’s anchor handling tug supply vessels (AHTS), a world first in this market. It’s part of the Danish company’s goal of “a 50% reduction in its carbon intensity compared to a 2018 baseline across its fleet by 2030.” The Wärtsilä battery hybrid solution will be installed on the 2018 built Maersk Minder for an expected 15% reduction in emissions and fuel usage. The vessel is DP2 capable for activities from heavy tows to subsea work. Maersk Supply Service has already reduced its carbon intensity by 13% since 2018.

Floating barge with a tug

“The I-64 Express barge service. Photo: Port of Virginia”. Image from gCaptain.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) is making almost $11,000,000 in grant money available to fund America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP). America has 25,000 miles of navigable waterways that can be a cost effective and more efficient way to transport goods, with less emissions than road and rail shipping. Shipping can reduce the number of containers driven by trucks that would otherwise cause more highway congestion. Port of Virginia’s 64 Express service did just that, connecting Hampton Roads and Richmond, VA. According to MARAD, “This one marine highway service has saved approximately $5.9 million in road maintenance and more than 17.5 thousand tons of carbon dioxide emissions while also supporting 1,100 direct and indirect jobs.” So far, AMHP has designated 45 projects over its lifetime.

Satellite in production

“Iridium's new LEO satellites in production (source: Iridium)”. Image from Riviera.

Iridium Communications has invested in DDK Positioning to improve its GPS. “Iridium said DDK’s technology improves GPS accuracy from within 10 m to less than 5 cm.” This is a huge improvement for dynamically positioning and internet of things devices (IoT). Iridium chief executive Matt Desch, said “Solutions from Iridium and DDK partners focused on precision agriculture, autonomous systems, maritime and infrastructure projects can now experience incredibly precise GNSS accuracy from anywhere on the planet”. Orbcomm, another satellite owner, has entered into an agreement with Unseenlabs, which uses radio frequency detection for maritime surveillance. Their nanosatellite constellation identifies vessels that turn off their automatic identification system to perform illegal activities. The electromagnetic fingerprinting cannot be falsified, and any vessel can be found from space, accurate to around 1 km. The technology can be used to prevent “unregulated fishing, violating trade sanctions, environmental pollution, drug and human trafficking.”

Wind turbines at sea

“FILE PHOTO: Teun van den Dries / Shutterstock”. Image from gCaptain.

There are plans for more than a dozen offshore wind farms to be approved over the next four years, including opening up California’s coast for floating turbines. The projects could add up to 19 GW of clean power to the United States grid, creating thousands of maritime and energy jobs. Floating wind is more expensive than fixed, so the U.S. Department of Energy is funding research and development of over $100 million.

Technician on the side of a wind turbine with BladeBUG

“BladeBUG's latest demonstration at ORE Catapult's Levenmouth demonstration turbine in Fife, Scotland”. Image from Riviera.

Innovate UK has funded, in collaboration with ORE Catapult, BladeBUG the six-legged turbine inspection robot. The newest project will expand its funding so it can crawl across structures to test the integrity of bolts ultrasonically. GE Renewable Energy estimates it could save 75% on bolt maintenance and repair costs. Currently, the bolt inspection process is done by humans, who have to inspect every inch of the blade’s surface. EchoBolt’s ultrasonic bolt inspection device allows BladeBUG to measure bolt tension ultrasonically, without the need for loosening and retightening bolts. There are currently about 30,000 blades in the UK with over 10 million bolts, with those numbers expected to increase to almost 250,000 blades and 79 million bolts by 2050. We’re gonna need more BladeBUGs.

Whale fin above the water with a vessel in the background

“CREDIT: John Calambokidis/Cascadia Research Collective”. Image from gCaptain.

In June 2020 we covered the story of the Vessel Speed Reduction Incentive Program in California called Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies. The goal of the program is to lower emissions and reduce the number of ships strikes on whales in the region. “Shipping companies receive recognition and financial awards based on the percent of distance traveled by their vessels through the Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed of 12 knots or less.” The results from the 2020 program are in, with many companies slowing down and some of them even donating their monetary rewards back to the program, including COSCO Shipping Lines, Evergreen, GALI, “K” Line, Maersk, Wallenius Wilhelmsen, and Swire Shipping. This is the sixth year of the program, and the awards and more information can be found here.

Smile, it’s Good News Monday! :-)


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