The Oasis Power Buoy, an offshore docking and charging station powered by green energy, has undergone the first of a series of rigorous tests in the Cromarty Firth harbour.
Aberdeen-based firm Oasis Marine Power, which designed and developed the buoy, said the initial stage of testing had gone well.
Originally designed to service crew transfer vessels for offshore wind farms, the pioneering device will be capable of charging any hybrid or all-electric vessel.
It is the first of its kind globally to conduct sea trials and has the potential to revolutionize the use of renewable energy for the maritime industry.
Existing diesel-powered maintenance vessels account for the majority of carbon dioxide emissions from an operating wind farm.
Power Buoy makes zero emission ships viable for industry, helping to address climate change and reduce costs.
George Smith, director of Oasis Marine Power, which specializes in renewable energy for the marine environment, said the company is delighted with the test results.
“We have proven that the concept is feasible and we are now working to optimize the design,” he said.
“What we have achieved is a world first, and this is a major step forward in drastically reducing the carbon footprint of the maritime industry.”
The buoys will initially be installed in offshore wind farms where electric and hybrid crew transfer vessels can recharge their batteries at sea, making them an entirely credible alternative to traditional diesel-powered ships.
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They will be powered by wind turbines or other renewable energy sources to provide zero-emission power and will do double duty as a loading point and offshore mooring.
The Oasis Power Buoy will now undergo further testing and optimization, including sustained sea trials.
Scotland currently has six operational offshore wind farms or demonstration projects: Robin Rigg, in the Solway Firth; Beatrice, on the Moray Firth; Aberdeen Bay; Levenmouth, on the Firth of Forth; HyWind, off the Aberdeenshire coast; and Kincardine, also in Aberdeenshire.
But the sector is poised for a massive expansion in the coming years, with around 25 gigawatts of new offshore wind coming online if all the schemes proposed in ScotWind’s recent seabed leasing round come to fruition.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.