Bibby Marine Orders First Battery and Methanol Powered eCSOV

electric offshore vessel
Bibby has ordered a CSOV that will use batteries and methanol fuel to be zero emissions in UK demonstration project (Bibby)

Published Apr 30, 2024 6:04 PM by The Maritime Executive


A shipbuilding contract has been completed for what is being called the “world’s first truly zero-emission, electric Commission Service Operation Vessel,” which is being built as part of UK sponsored demonstration project. The ship is expected to enter service in the UK in 2026 using a combination of a powerful battery system along with dual-fuel methanol engines.

A coalition of leading maritime companies led by Bibby Marine proposed the project as part of the UK’s Zero Emission Vessels and Infrastructure (ZEVI) project staged by the UK Department of Transportation. A total of £80 million was awarded to 10 projects in the 2022 round with the Bibby effort being awarded $25 million. They estimated the cost of the project for the vessel at $37.5 million total.

Bibby Marine reports that it completed a tender process and has selected Gondan to build the vessel. The Asturias shipyard in Spain won out of a variety of yards in the UK and internationally. Bibby cites the timeline, budget, and quality reputation as the deciding factors in the tender.

In the project proposal, the team called for a 295-foot vessel that would be primarily powered by electricity and batteries and have dual-fuel methanol-powered engines as backup. The ship will be ready for offshore charging and can recharge its batteries at night.

“The delivery of this vessel has the potential to be a game changer for our industry by accelerating our path to net zero, as well as showcasing marine innovation at its finest,” said Nigel Quinn, CEO of Bibby Marine. “This project will demonstrate that clean ships can be built at the same total cost of ownership as a conventional fossil burning vessel, coupled with significantly reduced operating costs.” 

The eCSOV, which has been designed in collaboration with UK-based ship designers Longitude. To facilitate zero-emission operations, the eCSOV will feature high-voltage offshore charging facilities for rapid recharging. The vessel will have the capability to operate solely on battery power for over 16 hours between charging cycles.

Describing the project in their application for the funding grant, the team said they expect that it will be possible to operate the vessel with a two-week cycle onsite at an offshore wind farm emissions-free. Near shore and onsite the vessel will operate solely on battery power. For the longer transits between the shore homeports and the wind farms, the vessel will use its methanol fuel engines.

One of the challenges that ZEVI also looks to address is the need for offshore charging capabilities. In the application, the group said the CSOV would still achieve a 50 percent reduction in emissions compared to a conventional SOV, if offshore charging is not available