Three new battery dual-fuelled passenger ships will lead to even greater take-up of batteries within the sector.
Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen dual-fuel expedition cruise ship, due for delivery in Q1 this year, will have an immediate impact on the cruise sector as it is the first cruise ship to use batteries when sailing, opening the way for other cruise operators to follow. The fact it will cut emissions by 20% leading to fuel savings, and cut noise and vibration, will appeal to other operators.
Interesting elements of its design will appeal to the cruise ship market. Hurtigruten’s new battery hybrid cruise ships will leave space for a battery pack five times larger in capacity than the initial pack being used. Hurtigruten decided not to buy a pack this size initially because marine battery developments are such that much greater efficiency will be achieved in the future.
The future efficiency of batteries will lead to further fuel and emissions savings making batteries more economic, and this technology more accessible and attractive for cruise operators.
Transport for London’s (TfL) new river Thames ferries will also open up the ferry industry to batteries. Batteries are already used in some ferries, but I believe this order will open the floodgates further.
The two ferries are among the first river ferries to be powered by dual-fuel batteries and illustrate why this form of power is strongly suited to this type of vessel: Batteries are suited to most river crossings due to the short connections. The ferries are manoeuvring constantly – there is no transit period, so it is tough on the diesel engines. But by using batteries for peak shaving – as in the case for these ferries – the engines are protected by the battery system.
The TfL ferries also highlight a way to overcome the cost challenge, which could potentially put other ferry operators off using batteries. To bring the initial expenditure down, instead of installing a bigger battery pack which would fulfill the 10-year lifetime requirement, the ships’ builder Remontowa told PST that ‘battery recoring’ will be carried out after around five years of operation. This means the cells in the battery modules will be replaced with new ones which will guarantee at least another five years of lifetime. The battery modules, racks and the vessel itself are designed to allow this operation to be carried out easily.
This innovatve solution which combates challenges of cost is bound to make other ferry operators take notice.
These newbuilds are aiding the acceleration of battery technology take up that was boosted by The Fjords’ dual-fuelled Vision of the Fjords and its all-electric Future of the Fjords, launched last year – the first carbon-fibre vessels in the world to be fully electric. Alongside Future of the Fjords, the company launched the Powerdock, a floating charging terminal that is a first of its kind and which I believe will play a role in developing battery use for ferries. It overcame the challenge of limited capacity in the electric grid in the area of the Norwegian Fjords it sails in.
It has a mobile infrastructure allowing it to be transported to different ports. The Fjords said it is interested in allowing other companies to use it, including cruise ships, which will certainly aid the take-up of battery power within Norway. But it could have even further repercussions – if the PowerDock concept is copied in other parts of the world it will allow passenger ships to easily access electricity to charge batteries when grid capacity is limited.