Attendees at Riviera’s ’Alternative fuels for powering a tug: the selection conundrum’ webinar agreed that conventional diesel propulsion was not the best solution for future-proofing tugboat fleets but they were divided when asked which alternative energy source they would invest in
Webinar panellists included PSA Marine senior manager for fleet engineering Jeffrey Sim, CMB.Tech Hydrotug project manager Roy Campe and Port of Antwerp technical manager Celine Audenaerdt.
Mr Sim unravelled the handling and operating challenges of LNG in his presentation, noting that PSA bunkered LNG onto its harbour tugs PSA Aspen and PSA Oak in 2020. The two tugs have dual-fuel engines supplied by Niigata and Wärtsilä.
Mr Sim shared PSA’s LNG triangle to explain the decisions and challenges with operating dual-fuel tugs. This includes bunker availability, regulator support and costs – both capital and operating expenditure, additional crew deployment, storage and safety protocols.
“Bunkering takes three times longer than with a conventional diesel tug, so we need to book this up to seven days in advance,” said Mr Sim.
He said the operation “needs additional crew for monitoring bunkering, with manning of the bunker station and controls in the engineroom”.
Mr Campe explained the benefits and challenges of using hydrogen fuel for tugs and other vessels. CMB.Tech is developing Hydrotug as its largest hydrogen-fuelled vessel.
“Hydrotug will be a 65-tonne bollard pull tug in Antwerp,” said Mr Campe. "It will have two 2-MW medium-speed engines and 400 kg of compressed hydrogen storage.”
As this tug will have dual-fuel engines, it will also have filters to remove particulates and selective catalytic reduction equipment for abatement of NOx.
“We are using conventional technology that is affordable; and this is a transition for the next 20 years,” said Mr Campe. “With this project we will get the experience and training. Then we can look at other and bigger projects.”
CMB has already brought Hydroville, a small passenger vessel into operation in Belgium. The company is also building Hydrobingo, a larger passenger shuttle in Japan along with Hydrocat, a hydrogen-fuelled crew transfer vessel for offshore windfarms.
Port of Antwerp is keen to encourage investment in alternative fuels for port vessels, according to Ms Audenaerdt who said the port is eager to work with CMB.Tech on the Hydrotug project and can offer LNG bunkering.
Ms Audenaerdt said Port of Antwerp was a partner in the EU-funded Fastwater project, retrofitting vessels for methanol fuel. “There will be three vessels retrofitted,” she said. This includes a tug, a pilot boat and coastguard vessel.
“We developed retrofit kits and will make business plans and train crew in this project,” said Ms Audenaerdt.
Some of the challenges to investing in alternative fuels are preparing supply chains, getting regulations in place, developing a training programme and commercialising the technology.
Webinar attendees agreed that conventional diesel propulsion was not the best solution for future-proofing tugboat fleets. But they were divided when asked which alternative energy source they would invest in, with LNG, methanol, hydrogen, ammonia and full-electric and hybrid propulsion offered as options.
Attendees were asked their opinion the main challenge their fleets encounter in efforts to transition towards a lower-carbon energy source. Around 40% of respondents said it was high capital and energy cost, another 32% cited a lack of regulatory framework and infrastructure and 28% said bunkering availability.
The group were then asked for their chief reason for not investing in alternative fuels for tugs. Around 67% said it was financial, 14% the supply chain, 9% regulatory hurdles, 7% technical barriers and just 3% said educating crew.
Asked what percentage of their fleet will transit to a lower-carbon energy source within the next 12 months, 71% said between 0 to 10% of the fleet, 21% voted from 10% to 30%, 8% thought 30-50%, but none of the attendees thought it would be more than 50% of their fleets.
Webinar attendees agreed that conventional diesel propulsion was not the best solution for future-proofing tugboat fleets. But they were divided when asked which alternative energy source they would invest in.
Asked which alternative energy source their company was embarking on for fleets within the next 24 months, half of the respondents thought it would be full-electric or hybrid, 27% said LNG, 15% hydrogen, 5% ammonia and 3% methanol.
In another poll, attendees were asked: Which fuel is the best option for future proofing your fleet? None said classic diesel propulsion, while 39% said diesel-electric hybrid propulsion, 33% dual-fuel hydrogen propulsion, 18% hydrogen fuel cell propulsion and 10% dual-fuel methanol propulsion.
You can view this webinar and all of the webinars from Riviera’s Tug Technology Webinar Week, in full, in our webinar library.
And you can sign up to attend our upcoming webinars on our events page.
Webinar panellists included (left to right) Port of Antwerp technical manager Celine Audenaerdt, PSA Marine senior manager for fleet engineering, in the fleet management department, Jeffrey Sim and CMB.Tech Hydrotug project manager Roy Campe.