The all electric ferry Ellen is “a dream come true for me”, Leclanché chief executive Anil Srivastava said – adding that he was “really optimistic” about combining fuel cells with batteries
He was speaking to Passenger Ship Technology at the official inauguration of the e-ferry Ellen, for which Leclanché provided the energy storage solution. Leclanché is also providing the battery for the fuel cell and battery-operated Hyseas III ferry.
At 4.2 MWh, Ellen’s are the largest batteries provided to a current ship – although Leclanché has already surpassed this size with its delivery of batteries to Grimaldi’s newbuild cruise ferries, which are 5.1 MWh.
Indeed, this huge order spans nine ferry energy storage solutions: three ferries each with 5.1-MWh battery packs, with delivery slated in 2020. The remaining six ferries are to be delivered in 2020 and 2021.
Highlighting the importance of the e-ferry project, Mr Srivastava said “When the project started four years ago when the tender was awarded, the EU had an objective on reducing CO2 emissions from maritime transportation. People do not realise that maritime transportation in Europe has the same level of CO2 emissions compared to cars.
“I could see that here is one sector of transportation others were not focusing on, so we took this project as strategic development, it was business development and now it is a reality.”
He emphasised “This project has written standards for electric ferries in Europe and for the world. The Global Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres network project, funded by the European Union, has established a network of five maritime technology co-operation centres (MTCCs) in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. Through collaboration and outreach activities at regional level, the MTCCs have been focusing their efforts since 2018 to help countries develop national maritime energy-efficiency policies and measures, promote the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations in maritime transport and establish voluntary pilot data collection and reporting systems. The Danish Maritime Authority with the Ellen Project made this a clear goal to implement.”
The e-ferry project has also set a path for Leclanché itself as it was the first battery energy storage provider to receive certification for such a large battery for an all-electric ship.
Highlighting the importance of using battery-powered propulsion in shipping, he said “It is one area that we took leadership in, in 2018 and it is the fastest growing part of our business and frankly the most profitable as well. Right now, it is growing like crazy, whether cargo or ferries, every large shipping company has a programme for using electricity.”
Using batteries has become easier as well. As Mr Srivastava pointed out, batteries have become compact and lighter as energy density is increasing, so for the same weight and volumetric dimensions, there is more energy.
He singled out that Leclanché batteries have moved from 145 Wh per kg in 2015 to 210 Wh per kg by the end of the year. “That is significant and helps us reduce our costs and helps market adaption.”
Mr Srivastava points out how Leclanché has grown its foothold in the maritime transportation market. “Look at what we have achieved in 24 months, cruise ferries, shorthaul ferries and cargo vessels.”
Leclanché is also providing a battery pack for Hyseas III, being built in Scotland, which is the world’s first hydrogen hybrid marine ferry. “I am really optimistic about combining hydrogen fuel cells with batteries and I think that is the next thing that will happen. People try to say fuel cells are batteries but in my opinion fuel cells are generators they are not going to do the job of a battery. You cannot operate heavy vessels just with fuel cells, but if you let batteries do the job, then fuel cells can be onboard chargers, constantly charging the batteries, with the batteries moving the vehicle.”
He singled out how batteries could be used to power vessels for much longer distances if combined with fuel cells. “You can install a lot of hydrogen in a small space as long as you do it safely and then hydrogen fuel cells can fast charge the batteries – that is next thing for long distance heavy transportation.”
Speaking about the Hyseas project, he said the pilot is using a “fairly small” 1 MWh battery. “We have to prove that the combination will work, which we are confident it will.”
The largest maritime battery Leclanché is providing is for Yara Birkeland, the world’s first electric, autonomous feeder vessel. A 6.7-MWh Leclanché battery pack is being used. Delivery is slated for Q1 2020.
Mr Srivastava commented “This shows great leadership from Yara, they are large and profitable, and they do not have to do this. However, this vessel will save 40,000 truck trips a year.”