The Environment Can’t Wait for Those Who Rest on Their Laurels

We are at the forefront of delivering a global energy revolution. Around the World, governments are setting ever more ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions and ween their economies off high-polluting sources of power. Offshore wind is fast becoming the technology of choice to replace high-carbon fossil fuels in many of the World’s major economies.

Offshore wind has become an energetic and highly motivated space firm in the knowledge that it is an industry which is a major contributor to addressing the climate change crisis.

However, we cannot hide from one simple fact: All human activity, everything that humans do, every moment of our existence, carries an environmental burden.

To this end, every action we take to deliver the energy revolution comes with an environmental cost. We are, after all, another major and growing industry – and like all other major industries, we pollute. But, is this pollution justified? As the French say, ‘on ne saurait faire d’omelette sans casser des œufs’.

New environmental regulations have recently come in to force that will go a long way to addressing the pollution caused by the marine side of the industry. As of the 1st January, the IMO Sulphur 2020 regulations have put a cap of 0.5% sulphur in marine fuels. The IMO’s 2050 greenhouse gas reduction strategy will also put pressure on the industry to clean up its act by requiring a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 on 2008 levels.

These new regulations will go a long way in reducing the offshore wind industries environmental burden, but is it enough? Can we do better?

We will have to ‘break some eggs’, however, we do still carry the moral imperative to ensure that we break as few eggs as possible and continually strive to further reduce the number that we break in the future.

There will always be opportunities to become more efficient and to reduce the amount of resources we consume during our day to day operations. OHT have committed to an ongoing process of continual improvement to ensure that we minimize our impact on the environment as we contribute to the development of the offshore wind industry. Our simple two-part plan is as follows:

  1. Minimize the environmental impact of our existing fleet
  2. Design all new-build vessels to the highest environmental standards

OHT is half-way through the construction of our new Transport and Installation vessel, Alfa Lift. When launched in 2021, Alfa Lift will be the largest, most efficient, custom-built, offshore wind foundation installation vessel in the World. The vessel has been specifically designed to install the largest foundations in the quickest and most efficient manner. In so doing, Alfa Lift will already be reducing the environmental impact of each project by virtue of its speed of operation and efficiencies of scale. The vessel has been designed to the very highest environmental standards possible today and in readiness for future improvements with zero emissions a real possibility and a target for OHT. Alfa Lift is fully DNV GL Clean Design compliant, will use the latest Common Rail Eco-Mapping engines to reduce CO2, and will have Hybrid Scrubbers and Selective Catalytic Reduction (Tier III) to significantly reduce SOx and NOx. The decision to burn HFO is also driven by the desire to reduce our environmental footprint with Well-to-Wake emissions of CO2 lower than diesel and comparable to HP LNG but with no added release of the far more polluting CH4 into the atmosphere.

In addition, we are investing in a sophisticated battery-hybrid system to further reduce emissions. Alfa Lift will be the world’s largest vessel with this technology.

It would be very easy for OHT and the offshore wind supply chain to ‘rest on our laurels’ under the narrative that we are significant contributors to the clean energy revolution. We could claim that by building offshore windfarms we are somehow vindicated from the negative impact of our industrial activities. But in our minds, that would be wrong. We have as much of a duty of care to ensure that our environmental impact is as small as possible alongside every other company, organisation and individual regardless of their industry.

As an industry we are committed to ensuring the highest standards of Health, Safety, and Quality. We must also commit to the highest standards of protecting the Environment. Positive change takes time and resources to achieve, and for OHT, we see this as a continuous agenda. This is why we are currently certifying our company to ISO 14001, the international environmental standard. Our vision is to be a leader in heavy transport and installation – contributing to an efficient and sustainable energy supply for the future – and we must do this in the most sustainable and efficient way that we can. And this is the very least that we expect from our supply chain and clients alike.

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