In the past decade, ship emissions have been severely restricted, particularly in 2015 to a sulfur maximum of 0.10% in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) in North America and Northern Europe. As the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is shaping the future of decarbonising shipping, shipowners are considering the transition from fossil fuels. The myriad alternatives include lithium-ion batteries and some early forays into hydrogen fuel cells.
Heretofore, large batteries in short runs have mainly been used as an auxiliary power source in conjunction with conventional fossil fuels. The advantages of load balancing lie in a “hybrid” configuration, ie batteries in connection with conventional generators. DNV presents the arguments in favor of batteries in a nutshell: "All electric and hybrid ships with energy storage in large Li-ion batteries can significantly reduce fuel costs, maintenance and emissions as well as improve responsiveness, regularity and safety."
Batteries were used when retrofitting existing offshore service vessels. Eidesvik Offshore, active in the North Sea oil and gas arena; has retrofitted several diesel-electric ships for battery power from 2015. In the Americas, OSV operators installing battery retrofits included Seacor, Companhia Brasileira de Offshore and, more recently, Harvey Gulf Marine, who install batteries in three-fuel fuel vessels using conventional diesel and LNG.
The current boom in the maritime wind energy sector, in which a decarbonisation stance is indispensable, has given further impetus to battery performance in new buildings. Louis Dreyfus Armateurs with two service operations vessels built in a Turkish shipyard has used the onboard DC grid from ABB. ABB explains that this electrical supply system (ESS) “… integrates two battery packs, which are mainly used for the spin reserve and the tip shave. Power peaks during operation can be covered by the battery instead of starting another engine. Here, too, the battery power can serve as a backup for the operation of generators, which means that less replacement generator capacity is required. "
Batteries bring efficiency when ships have to wait next to turbines, as battery power can replace inefficient, low-speed generators.
Green references have also influenced the choice of electricity supply in the ferry sector, with corporate environmental stewardship now being a factor in the choice of modes of transport and, more generally, the sources of finance for airlines. In a hybrid situation, one or more diesel-powered generators are replaced by batteries that would then run in the port or to balance the load while driving. John Waterhouse, Principal of the Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG), the ferry specialists for marine architects, explains: “For ships that are operated over long distances with sustained power, a hybrid drive only makes sense if there are different loads, such as the ESS A spin reserve can be used for the tip shave or as such. “Depending on the configuration, an inverter and a step-up transformer are connected to bring the battery power as a generator to the equivalent voltage. Notes Waterhouse, "High speeds or long distances make using an ESS less attractive because of the size of the battery system."
The retrofitting of batteries in the ferry sector began from 2013 to 2016, when Scandlines (with trips between Denmark and Germany in the Baltic Sea ECA) equipped six passenger ferries, including two with 1,300 passengers / 460 vehicles, with lithium-ion batteries. In 2019 one of them, Copenhagen, was equipped with a Norsepower rotor sail for the Gedser / Rostock route. In North America, Washington State Ferries (WSF) has launched a plan to electrify almost the entire fleet in line with its Long Distance Plan 2040 (LRP), “… stabilizing the fleet by delivering 16 new ships to replace aging calls for ships and retrofitting of six existing ships ”, according to the WSF's system electrification plan from January 2021. WSF has announced plans to convert its three largest ferries, the Jumbo Mark II class, from diesel to a 10.4 MWH hybrid electric. System upgrades are to be provided by Siemens (which previously supported Scandlines).
Waterhouse notes that the EBDG is leading the engineering for the WSF project at Vigor Shipyard.
BC Ferries, which serves ports further north, launched Island Discovery and Island Aurora, the first two of six island-class hybrids (up to 400 passengers / 47 vehicles) built in Damen Galati, Romania, in 2020 . Four more newbuildings will be commissioned later in 2021 for final preparation to be delivered to the Point Hope Maritime shipyard in Victoria, British Columbia, with plans to enter service in 2022.
The batteries (2 @ 400 kWh) are supplied by Corvus Energy, based in Norway, but with an office in British Columbia.
Due to the short port handling times in populated areas, ferry projects include loading “weapons” – in some cases autonomously – that can be quickly connected to charging stations on land. In the case of WSF, charging coastal batteries is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas (CO2e) emissions by 53% by 2030 and by 76% from 2005 baseline by 2040. EDDG's Waterhouse said, "An operation like the Bridgeport – Port Jefferson ferry may not use ESS to supplement propulsion, but could use it in port for hotel loads so there are no emissions when docking."
ABB, which has worked with Louis Dreyfus Armateurs through its SOVs, has also been active in the passenger sector.
Most recently, ABB Marine & Ports announced that it would supply Casco Bay Lines (Portland, Maine) with an integrated hybrid power and propulsion package as well as an onshore charger for a new ferry with 599 passengers. The new ship, which runs the 2.2-nautical mile run to Peaks Island across Casco Bay, would make it possible to eliminate carbon emissions from diesel fuel while it is moored in port. With the onboard DC grid power distribution system from ABB, fuel consumption can be optimized for different loads. In a presentation to the community, CBL announced that it had chosen a 900 kWh hybrid configuration (one of the four options offered by EBDG, a consultant to the project). The presentation also shows that the hybrid ship, with a capital cost of $ 13.97 million, was $ 3.7 million more expensive than a diesel-powered ship, otherwise the same. In April 2021, ABB announced that it had been selected to supply power solutions for 10 hybrids for the Portuguese operator Transtejo for fast ferry services on the Tagus River around Lisbon.
ABB solutions have also been used in Niagara Falls, where Maid of the Mist boats transport tourists around the falls. Two new electric boats were added to the fleet in the 2020 season. “The latest generation of Maid of the Mist ships are welded aluminum catamarans with batteries that drive two electric propulsion motors with a total output of 400 kW,” says ABB. An onshore charging system complements the fleet ESS.
Fully battery-powered ships are already here, albeit in small numbers. In 2015, Ampere started operations on the 5.5 km long Norwegian Sognefjord between Oppedal and Lavik, with a capacity for 350 passengers and 120 cars. With Siemens as the integrator, the 1090 kWh battery (with an intermediate circuit voltage of 850 – 1050) can be charged in less than 10 minutes. In Denmark, Ellen, 198 people / 31 cars, connects Fynshav and Søby on a 22-mile route in a protected area in the southern Baltic Sea. Equipped with two motors and a 4.3 MWh battery pack from Leclanché SA, operations began in summer 2019. In Canada, BC Ferries intends to convert its island class hybrids to fully electric operation in the future. In Norway, the fully electric 120 TEU container feeder Yara Birkeland (which is being prepared for autonomous operation) is expected to go into operation on the Oslofjord for the fertilizer manufacturer Yara Corporation this year.
A major demonstration project is a fully battery-powered bunker tanker developed by e5 Lab Inc., a consortium of seven leading Japanese companies, including Asahi Tanker Co., Ltd. and (together with Mitsui OSK), and to develop an infrastructure for fully electric vessels. The ships that serve Tokyo Bay are operated by Koa Sangyou Ltd. (Delivery 2022) and Imura Shipyard Co. Ltd. (Delivery 2023) built.
The ships are very agile, with rotating azimuth propellers at the stern (powered by an electric motor) and a bow thruster that moves sideways for bunker operations.
At the end of 2020, the consortium chose Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) to build the marine propulsion system. In March 2021, Corvus Energy (which also supplied the ESS for Amps) was selected to provide the ESS for the e5 ships. Corvus, which will integrate its 3,480 kWh Orca ESS into the tankers; According to the KHI, battery operation should be six to eight hours between charges.
Looking ahead: hydrogen
Thought leaders are already looking at the infrastructure for distributing hydrogen to the maritime sector. Publicly traded tanker company Ardmore Shipping (ASC), which carries petroleum products and chemicals (including methanol), announced it will partner with Element 1 (E1), a developer of a technology that enables the production of hydrogen from methanol on demand at the point of consumption . As envisaged under a broad mandate to supply the maritime sector, the E1 system could bring hydrogen to fuel cells at docks.
Thinking similarly, Corvus Energy announced in late 2020 that it had partnered with Toyota to bring its fuel cell technology to the maritime sector and plans to develop and manufacture Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems for global maritime shipping Industry. With a production facility in Bergen, Norway, fuel cells based on a technology developed by Toyota for automobiles are to be offered from 2023. The project was funded by Innovation Norway, a government agency, for $ 6.25 million. Reflecting on a robust long-term strategy, Corvus says, "In addition, a specific ship control system will be developed that will combine battery and fuel cell operation to allow easy integration with the power management systems of a number of system integrators." The EBDG's Waterhouse said: " … the efficiency of PEM conversions is over 50% (energy output / energy content of hydrogen), so it is better than an internal combustion engine. " He told Maritime Reporter, “Most marine applications must be in the several MW range. These will likely be based on railroad engine designs as the railroad market is much larger than the marine market. "
Another series of projects is under the auspices of E.U. funded flagship project, a consortium of shipowners, equipment suppliers and service providers trying to supply ship operators with hydrogen. A project member, the French inland shipping entrepreneur Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT), a subsidiary of the Sogestran Group, is slated to deploy a hydrogen-powered ship on the Seine later in 2021 to develop a new business for urban distribution with ships in the Paris area. The fuel cells on board are supplied with compressed hydrogen in bottles. The consortium is also building a passenger / car ferry at the Ada shipyard in Istanbul to be used by Norwegian owner Norled along the coast near Stavanger.
Ardmore Shipping's hydrogen fuel sales mandate is worldwide, but points to the United States. If Ardmore and E1 give any indication of a likely high adoption market, they would include Maritime Partners, a financier that has heavily penetrated the U.S. inland shipping markets after funding hundreds of vessels for the inland river system.
Smart money with a maritime focus is exploring batteries and fuel cells in conjunction with government funds. The SW / TCH team (associated with investor Oaktree and Clean Marine Energy – supporter of early LNG fuel barging efforts) has developed a concept for a fully electric ferry around the New York waterways and is participating in the Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine Project The Water-Go-Round ferry, which is being built by All American Marine and is to run on hydrogen fuel cells, is scheduled to start in 2021.