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Ship re-routes cut offshore costs

US study shows industry, society will save billions moving vessel lanes

Rerouting ships in the US to open up areas for offshore wind development could save billions of dollars in construction and operating costs, according to research by the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.

The cost to the shipping industry is "relatively small" for sending commercial ships slightly farther out to sea when traveling between Mid-Atlantic ports, said CEOE.

Study co-author Jeremy Firestone, CEOE professor of marine policy said: "It’s a big ocean but there are a lot of users that need to work with each other to maximise benefits to society."

The team considered hypothetical, large-scale offshore wind projects that could be built in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Researchers calculated the added cost of having ships travel farther by considering capital, fuel and operating costs and cost to society of emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx and particulate matter emitted during ships’ voyages.

The cost of offshore wind projects included capital costs of foundations, transmission cables and installation, as well as the cost of maintaining the turbines.

Directing ships farther out from shore added $0.2bn to the cost of their voyages over the course of three decades. This would increase the direct cost of transporting a metric ton of goods by 25 cents. Building wind turbines farther out beyond the shipping routes added a cost of $13.4bn to the cost of projects.

Overall, the savings from changing the routes would add up to $13.2bn.

The report authors said: “If the US is to advance toward meeting its goal to build 54GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, finding cost-effective locations for these wind projects is critical.

"By modifying vessel routes, shallow, nearshore sites in the US Mid-Atlantic could be opened for wind development, allowing consumers to have the benefit of clean, domestic, carbon-free wind energy at a cheaper price.”

The study, Changing Vessel Routes Could Significantly Reduce the Cost of Future Offshore Wind Projects, will appear in the 1 August issue of the Journal of Environmental Management. It can be accessed here.

Image: Dong Energy

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