Drone Survey Vessels for Offshore Wind

Are Drone Survey Vessels The Wave of The Future For Offshore Wind?

I don’t know if drone survey vessels are the new wave of the future for offshore wind, but I want to share something.

We recently completed a project in which we provided escort services (not that kind of escort!!) for two unmanned “Drone” survey vessels. Score one for awesome technology!

I was absolutely floored at what these little ‘boats’ could do with speed, agility, and efficiency. Never mind the cost of labor and other expenses or the ENORMOUS difference with the carbon footprint while doing operations.

FYI: A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. According to Google
** The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, or 32,000 lb per person per year, or 88lb per day????? 
** One gallon of diesel fuel emits 22.44 pounds of CO2 when combusted.
I’m not going to get into a math match with Google or the enviros here, but I’d certainly like to look at their Excel sheet one day and figure out this “common core” math because a gallon of diesel only weighs 7 pounds.

Are we supposed to believe that every gallon of diesel TRIPLES in weight when combusted????
Doesn’t  make mathematical sense to me, but it came from Google so it must he true right?
Anyway, I need something to run comparisons, so Google info it is.

This blog post I’m going to share with you a little bit of what we’ve done with Unmanned Drone Survey Vessels and compare it to a Manned Survey Vessel.

We happen to be involved with both, and if you’ve read any my previous blog posts, you know that excel and I get along really well at 2 o’clock in the morning when I can’t sleep. I simply entered the information, Excel came up with the numbers that I believe should be looked at and seriously considering the insane inflationary period we are all facing.

Let’s face it: with fuel prices being what they are, labor pressures, insurance prices, food costs and everything else that goes into it, Offshore Wind needs to take a serious look at this.

So let me tell you a story on how this all began.

My team was in discussion with a certain Offshore Wind developer, and during on of the conversations, the subject of using an unmanned survey vessel for inshore work came up. Needles to say, I was very intrigued and we ended up providing a little shoreside support and a small fishing vessel to work as the escort boat.

Fast forward a few weeks, both boats are working and I’m collecting intel for this post.

  • Big Boat is 165 foot long with 28 people on board, burns roughly 1,000 gallons a day while surveying and upwards of 125 gallons per hour when steaming from place to place. 

  • Small boat was 42’ long with 2 people on bard and burns 50 gallons a day during survey operations and 5 gallons per hour while steaming fro place to place.

Survey operations began on October 16, 2022 and ended on November 20, 2022. This comparison is based on 35 calendar days.

  • Big boat actually surveyed 12 days consuming @ 12,000gal of diesel and steamed to and from port 6 times for a total of 200 hrs, or 25,000 gal of diesel.
  • Total Diesel Consumption: 37,000 gal @ 22.44 lb per gallon = carbon footprint of 832,280
  • 28 people @ 88lb per day X 35 days = 86,240
  • Total carbon footprint: 918,520

  • Little boat, actually surveyed 21 days consuming 900 gal of diesel and while traveling to and from home port of Montauk, the boat burned and additional 120 gal.  
  • Total Diesel consumption: 1,050 gallons @ 22.44 lb per gallon = carbon footprint of 23,562 lb.
  • 2 people @ 88lb per day X 35 days = 6,160
  • Total carbon footprint: 29,772

Big Boat: 918,250

Drone Boat 29,772

As you can see by the comparison, expenses and carbon footprint are shockingly different.

Now to be honest, a drone survey vessel in incapable of performing all of the functions a big boat can but certainly it can do 60 or 70% of it thus seriously decreasing the amount of work the big boat can do. End result, increased efficiency, huge cost savings, and an earth shattering decrease in carbon footprint!

Drone survey boats might be the wave of the future for Offshore Wind.

If you’d like to learn more about the Drone Survey Boats, feel free contact me.