Mammoet’s Head of Sustainability, Erica Gray, discusses engineered heavy lifting’s role as an enabler in the transition to a low carbon future. However, there are many practical hurdles to overcome in satisfying an energy-hungry planet with limited resources. “The kind of massive infrastructure change required to meet the Paris targets does not happen quickly and the reality is we will need to continue to satisfy the demand for power as we transition to low carbon solutions.
“The good news is we are not starting from scratch: there is much knowledge and experience that can be ‘reused and recycled’ for more sustainable applications,” says Erica. “For example, the experience we have built up in load-outs and heavy lifting offshore can be utilised for the efficient execution of wind projects, particularly floating wind where foundations will reach over ten thousand tonnes.
“Modularisation techniques used to deliver more efficient construction for conventional industrial projects over the last three or four decades will also enable the renewables sector to enjoy faster, safer and more cost-effective projects with potentially lower carbon footprints.”
As hub heights increase and wind turbine components grow ever-larger, technologies developed with different industries in mind will make a big difference. Super heavy lift cranes will help to broaden participation in wind energy by making more ports viable for offshore wind projects, while on land they will allow assembly of huge turbine structures and support the provision of the necessary infrastructure for power distribution networks.
And it doesn’t end there. New facilities such as waste-to-energy plants, biofuel facilities or co-located steel and energy production plants can all benefit from highly efficient modularisation techniques, supported by the heavy lifting know-how and equipment that have moved modules of over 40 000t.
Upgrading existing facilities
Apart from new construction, there are also opportunities for existing facilities to upgrade to more efficient techniques or to include carbon capture. “The extensive experience our colleagues have accumulated on how to work in active, busy and constricted plants can be a huge benefit here, not to mention the highly-specialised gantries and cranes that have been developed for this purpose,” Erica elaborates.
In addition to enabling new infrastructure through more efficient solutions, heavy lifting and transport companies can help EPCs and owners to bring down the impact of their own operations by switching to low carbon equipment through the electric SPMT or more efficient systems such as Mammoet’s Trailer Power Assist, for example. This is of growing importance in the civil sector, where carbon emissions are closely monitored in line with government requirements to reduce the carbon footprint of publicly-funded projects.
Fuel from cooking oil
Working with low carbon fuels, such as biofuels or fuels derived from waste products, can reduce carbon emissions further. “We have already completed our first project using fuel derived from waste cooking oil, even preparing the ground on which the work can be done through the use of innovative products such as Enviro-Mat,” Erica explains.
“There is so much more to be discovered if we are willing to embrace the new and take the bold step away from the old,” she concludes.