Inside Marine: Green Solutions for the Blue Economy

Inside Marine: Green Solutions for the Blue Economy

Inside Marine: Green Solutions for the Blue Economy

From Inside Marine, Issue M59 | FEB/MAR 2024

Singapore-based Sea Forrest has a clear focus – to help decarbonise the maritime industry. CEO & Founder George LEE, COO Captain Kevin WONG and CTO Dr TAN Wei Kiong explained more to Romana MOARES.

Sea Forrest stands as a pioneer in Singapore’s maritime industry decarbonisation efforts, specialising in energy management solutions through marine electric and hybrid propulsion, marine charging, and energy storage systems. Sea Forrest not only designs and assembles these systems but also provides comprehensive energy management solutions, encompassing software and in-house programming. 

“Our core business involves assisting vessel owners achieve substantial changes to align with the IMO 2030/2050 goals for reducing GHG emissions,” stated COO Captain Kevin Wong. “We accomplish this by developing solutions tailored to different operation profiles and vessel types. Our offerings include retrofit kits for both new builds and existing vessels, as well as comprehensive energy management systems.”

“We develop cost-effective and practical solutions that deliver incremental steps in-line with the evolving technologies and alternative fuel market,” explained CEO & Founder George Lee. With a background as a mechatronics engineer, Mr Lee boasts two decades of experience within the marine and offshore industry, managing ships, oil rigs and offshore platforms construction.

One of Sea Forrest’s key differentiators is its in-house system control and software development team, led by the accomplished CTO Dr Tan Wei Kiong, who holds a PhD in Optoelectronics. Dr Tan is highly skilled in aligning technical advancements with business objectives.

A decade of growth

The company was incorporated in 2011, focusing on project management of oil rig construction, afloat repair, maintenance and fabrication services. By 2019, its offerings expanded in line with the market development to include innovative solutions to address vessels’ carbon footprint.

“Throughout our evolution, we have shifted to become a system integrator,” said Captain Wong. Today, Sea Forrest proudly stands as a comprehensive solutions provider, offering a 360° service.

In 2021 the business was acquired by BH Global and rebranded Sea Forrest Technologies with Sea Forrest Power Solutions and Sea Forrest Engineering as wholly owned subsidiaries. Sea Forrest Engineering is focused on equipment and structure fabrication and afloat repairs. Meanwhile, Sea Forres Power Solutions fully-supports energy transition in the maritime industry, offering several product lines – full electric propulsion; full electric-ready propulsion; green hybrid propulsion; Green Cabin energy-saving system; SEAGEN marinized lithium-ion batteries; and Energy Cube Containerised energy storage system.

The company’s vision is to deliver green solutions for the blue economy.

“Our business is about encouraging action now,” Mr Lee explained. “Given the current challenges such as the insufficient charging infrastructure for electric vessels and the need to establish a reliable supply chain for alternative net zero fuels, many vessel owners are simply waiting. Consequently, we created solutions that encourage owners to make incremental changes that align with the evolving technology and supply chain developments.”

Sea Forrest capitalises on its extensive industry expertise, with approximately 60% of its workforce comprising engineers and programmers, a prominent competitive advantage for the company. Captain Wong, an accomplished marine professional holding qualifications as a Mater Mariner and an MSc in Maritime Studies, previously held the esteemed position of Singapore’s Port Master from 2017 to 2022. Speaking about his team, he emphasised: “We don’t simply recruit engineers; rather, we actively seek out young talents who are enthusiastic about contributing to sustainability projects.”

As an innovative company, Sea Forrest actively seeks partners who align with its vision, as explained by Mr lee: “ Our effectiveness is intricately linked to our suppliers and partners. We hold these collaborative relationships in high regard.”

Transitioning to net zero

Sea Forrest offers a range of solutions for current and future applications. “Our development are agnostic to the future choice of energy,” said Dr Tan. “This allows customers to start decarbonisation without worrying about their capital investment being obsolete in a few years’ time.”

The highest demand is for the company’s Green Hybrid propulsion systems that are retrofittable to both existing vessels and new builds. These systems offer seamless control between electric and diesel modes and accept alternative fuels. They are suitable for pilot boats, windfarm CTVs, fast crew boats and patrol crafts. Sea Forrest is proud to have delivered, along with its partners, the hybrid solution for Singapore’s first hybrid powered pilot vessel and four hybrid powered windfarm CTVs for operations in Europe.

As the energy transition in the maritime industry progresses, the company is increasing its market share. For a Japanese client, Sea Forrest has delivered a full electric propulsion system (zero-emission) and has received additional orders from other Japanese customers. Through a strategic partnership, Taiyo (Japan) will be Sea Forrest’s distributor for their proprietary Energy Cube energy storage system in Japan.

Sea Forrest’s full electric-ready systems are generating considerable interest. “The system is designed to future-proof vessels for owners looking to transition to change to full electric or fuel cells,” said Mr Lee. The first full electric-ready system was delivered to Victory Private Limited, a tanker company operating in Singapore.

“We have also achieved notable success with out Green Cabin energy-saving systems on three 42m – fast crew boats for the Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand oil and gas sectors, and delivered solar-powered propulsion systems for a reservoir maintenance boat in Marina Bay,” he elaborated. “Additionally, we proudly introduced the first marinized lithium-ion battery for marine propulsion, designed, built, assembled and type-approved in Singapore. Our portfolio is further enhanced by containerised energy storage systems catering to both marine ad offshore applications.”  

Sustainable progress

While the sector is new, the competing technologies are still in their early stages. By focusing on cost-efficient solutions that are available now and suitable for both new and existing vessels, Sea Forrest is at the forefront of accelerating the maritime sector’s green transformation.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed – the Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry took a keen interest in Sea Forrest and visited its Creation Lab in July 2023. “During the visit, the Minister announced a foundational sustainability guide titled ‘Sustainability Playbook for Enterprises’,” said Captain Wong. “Since then, we have been featured in the local media as an example of a company that has embraced sustainability.”

“Through significant investments, we aim to expand our business, increase our talent pool and scale up our solutions. Our current focus is primarily on R&D and refining existing solutions. We collaborate with major ship classification societies and research institutions, working on projects to drive innovation and safety in maritime electrification technology.”

“This partnership with ABDS extends to updating classification rules and standards to ensure their relevance and easy application in the rapidly evolving landscape of marine batteries and propulsion technology. Additionally, with improved data collection, we can explore the use of AI to further optimise solutions for customer.”

Concluding, Mr Lee noted that while Sea Forrest’s current presence is primarily in Singapore, its client base spans the globe: “To prepare for the future, we are in the process of planning oversea offices to better serve our international clientele and are also actively recruiting passionate talents to strengthen our team.” 

Read the article here (Page238).