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New Hybrid-Powered Diving Barge Offsets Significant Carbon Emissions, Says BIM

21st November 2021
Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s new diving barge at Bere Island
Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s new diving barge at Bere Island Credit: BIM

Divers taking part in Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) commercial scuba and surface-supplied diving programmes are benefiting from the new diving barge two months on since its launch at the seafood agency’s National Fisheries & Diving College of Ireland (NFCI) in Castletownbere, West Cork.

The barge includes a decompression chamber, surface supplied diver unit and welfare accommodation, and is described as “unique” as it’s run by a hybrid battery-powered system that has offset significant carbon emissions and resulted in cost savings.

Captain Shane Begley, principal at the NFCI, said this is the first known time such a system has been used for marine training in Ireland and the results have exceeded expectations.

“BIM has always viewed this project as a pilot to test the viability of using a battery and generator powered system in a marine training environment,” he said. “We set out, with our project partners Bere Island Boatyard and Daretech Technologies, to reduce the carbon footprint and operational costs of the barge, and also to measure the emission offsets and possible cost savings.

“What’s exciting about this project is that now that we’ve seen the results, we can now begin to explore how this system might be applied to other parts of the seafood industry such as aquaculture feed barge vessels and possibly fishing vessels in the future.

“Another unique feature of the system is that the power management of the system [ie the battery and generator] and system monitoring happens remotely, more than 70 miles away.”

The power source for diving barges previously hired by BIM for use on its commercial diving programmes were typically 40kwh diesel generators. These powered all of the lighting and underwater cutting and welding tools used by students. Two petrol and diesel-driven compressors were also used for previous BIM diver operations.

“Now BIM is using a hybrid system comprising a 50kwh battery and generator and the petrol and diesel-driven compressors have been fitted with electric motors, so they now run on electricity,” Capt Begley said.

“What now happens is that the battery, charged by the generator as required, powers all the electricity requirements for the barge and the diving operations, from the lighting and sockets, compressors, underwater burning to the welding equipment. The heat from the generator is also harvested and used to dry the diver drysuits and undersuits.

“The result is an 86% fuel saving and a carbon emission offset of 5,800 KG. Furthermore, the generator kicks in when the barge is vacant, and charges the battery, this results in no noise or emissions while diving operations are taking place.”

Published in Diving, Environment Team

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