BMT Defence Services Ltd, a subsidiary of BMT Group, has successfully completed an Overall Platform Energy Efficiency Study for the European Defence Agency (EDA). The study sought to identify the most effective means of reducing energy consumption onboard a naval vessel, with the aim of improving energy efficiency on a whole ship basis. BMT took a cross-national boundary approach, under the umbrella of the EDA. Twenty or so companies from a number of European nations were involved.

The study aimed to accelerate technologies into implementation and is unique in taking a holistic approach. Whole platform efficiency overrode sub-system or technology benefit realisation – making practicality part of the criteria rather than mere potential.

Candidate technologies were identified and those with merit subjected to roadmap definition. Innovative technological approaches to requirements were adopted. A range of concepts based on sound engineering knowledge and empirical evidence were assessed alongside emerging technologies. Existing and future technologies which have the potential to improve energy efficiency of platforms were studied.

Reviewing over 100 candidate technologies, 16 were identified as worthy of serious further consideration. Detailed analyses were then carried out, with reference to four ship types: small and large surface combatants, a large amphibious assault ship and a fleet tanker auxiliary.

Ships’ energy demands are dictated by the cumulative power requirements of component systems, electrical, mechanical, propulsion etc. Rising fuel prices caused by the dynamics of the hydrocarbon fuel market drive the requirement for more efficient forms of energy consumption. The study objectives were to assess technologies that had merit and potential for improvement and define how these can be developed for integration into platforms in the near future.

Technology roadmaps were created for those which may most benefit from further development. When deemed necessary, activities for the development of technologies to be matured, from current technology readiness levels (TRL) through to TRL9 were identified, with associated timescales, cost estimates and technology roadmaps. High temperature fuel cells and isoengines were assessed as meriting road-mapping.

The technologies identified are now more likely to become part of future solutions for environmentally sound and sustainable naval warship designs. Undertaking the study indicates that defence government, science and industry are taking environmental and sustainability issues seriously. For example, if a fleet tanker vessel can show efficiency improvements of 9%; with a global population of more than 100 naval fleet tankers, the potential to impact naval fleet fuel usage in the next 15 years is enormous. This could apply to all other classes of vessel, with over 2000 naval ships in service worldwide today.

As a result of this study, BMT Defence Services and the European Defence Agency were nominated together and shortlisted along with four other candidates for the Green Shipping Initiative of the Year category of the Sustainable Shipping Awards 2009.