Large-scale adoption of hybrid and electric propulsion in Asia requires motivation for change, willing first movers, policy flexibility and competitively priced electricity according to the ‘How can Asia advance adoption of hybrid, electric and fuel cell technology?’ webinar
Part of Riviera Maritime Media’s Maritime Hybrid, Electric and Fuel Cells Webinar Week, the webinar’s panellists included Singapore Maritime Institute executive director Dr Sanjay C Kuttan, Spear Power Systems commercial director Jon Diller, DNV GL – Maritime Advisory principal consultant and head of research and development Dr Imran Ibrahim and BOS Offshore & Marine electrification manager, Ma Shiao.
Dr Kuttan targeted three areas that could allow Asia to increase the pace of adoption of hybrid and electric propulsion: performance envelopes, first movers/adopters and policy management.
Discussing performance envelope, a term borrowed from aeorspace, to address design capability for hybrid and electric technology in a competitive field, Dr Kuttan said, “Whatever technology you have, you need to be better than the incumbent. The performance envelope has to be catered for the particular use case.”
The second method for increasing hybrid and electric propulsion adoption, according to Dr Kuttan, is fo find the first movers. “Someone needs to have the courage to move forward.” he said. Continuing, Dr Kuttan foreshadowed his third point, asking “and how does the policy ecosystem reward the first movers who took that step forward?”
Changes to established policy could come through a ’policy sandbox’, Dr Kutan said. The policymakers would use the sandbox to test and understand the new technology and then develop new policies from that point.
Covering a slightly different angle, Mr Diller said that the time is right to adopt hybrid and electric propulsion now, laying out an investment strategy he said would position early adopters for a predicted leap in battery technology in 10 years.
With an accepted lifespan for lithium ion batteries of around 10 years, and the prediction that new solid state battery technology will be mature in 10 years’ time, Mr Diller said adopters of battery technology today will gain 10 years of experience, leapfrogging those who wait for battery technology to change.
“People need to purchase lithium ion batteries now and learn how to use them, and most importantly, how to integrate an ecosystem of suppliers. Otherwise, when it is time to integrate batteries, they will not know how,” he said.
Mr Diller noted two main reasons why the marine battery market’s fundamental differences from land-based battery applications would keep marine batteries more expensive than land-based units.
First, marine batteries require higher safety, both in certification and use.
Second, the maritime battery market is tiny. The energy storage system (ESS) market is worth an estimate US$10Bn per year and the electric car market is valued at US$20Bn. The marine market is only worth around US$600M.
“The components of lithium ion batteries made for marine application are made in much smaller quantities and therefore the system cost of a lithium ion battery for marine use is significantly higher than for other uses,” he said.
Dr Ibrahim noted that a DNV GL study Maritime Forecast 2050 showed Asia was lagging behind in electric and hybrid adoption. Speaking generally, he said, “Battery take up in the maritime space is still quite low. When it comes to where batteries are utilised, Asia is still lagging behind compared to other geographies.”
Dr Ibrahim’s presentation showed that Norway had 179 battery-powered ships in operation, compared to 10 such vessels operating in Asia.
Ma Shiao detailed his company BOS’s work on a Hyundai-built hybrid and electric vessel project. BOS Offshore & Marine is the system integrator, working with partners class society Bureau Veritas and battery provider Danfoss and Durapower.
“Ship shaft torque and speed,“ he said, “are the most important parameters when designing an electric and hybrid system.” The company has designed a series of mathematical models to answer the following questions: How do you know one ship is ‘greener’ than another? Is the hybrid electric design optimised in terms of equipment siting and control? What will be the vessel’s performance after the design limitation?
He also noted that BOS Offshore & Marine was willing to share this experience and was available to work with partners in the design and construction of electric and hybrid vessels.
During the question and answer session, panellists were asked for their opinion on which Asian country or countries would lead the development of electric and hybrid propulsion tugs. Dr Kuttan noted that one key element in Asia is the price of electricity. Deregulated and competitively priced electricity is a driver in the development of hybrid and electric propulsion and in this respect, the Philippines ranks highly.
It also has a large harbour fleet that would suit hybrid and electric propulsion. Thailand also has competitively priced electricity and a vast network of island hopping craft, the panel noted, which would be ideal for hybrid and electric propulsion. However, Singapore is leading the way in Asia with its specialist technology companies and maritime network, including the Singapore Maritime Institute, the panel agreed.
Polls taken during the webinar clearly showed there is an appetite in Asia to make the change to hybrid and electric propulsion. Of those that responded, 45% agreed Asian business leaders believe climate change is an existential threat and decarbonisation is an imperative call to action. 23% felt the opposite and 14% felt that the existential threat existed but Asian business leaders were not yet ready.
A large number of those that responded, 64% were of the opinion the ’old’ energy and technology incumbents influence the rate of adoption of the ’new’ hybrid, electric and/or fuel cell technology. Only 9% felt this was not the case and 9% were unsure.
To speed up the adoption of electric and hybrid propulsion, what type of incentive/policy measure is the most effective to promote marine battery applications for vessels in port waters? Of those that responded, the answers were split between emissions tax (47%) and financial subsidies (47%) with a small group favouring licensing policies (3%) or other (3%).
How did respondents view their companies reaction to adopting hybrid solutions? Of those that responded, 49% thought it would be more than three years and 24% within three years. A relatively high 27% replied within a year. No one replied ’never’.
Two elements stood out to the questions ‘What is the weakest link in vessel electrification in the port waters?’ Of those that responded, the lack of shore-based charging infrastructure (37%) and lack of available financing for newbuildings and retrofits (34%) headed the list. These were followed by lack of policy incentives (20%), lack of local competence (6%) and lack of battery suppliers (3%).
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Panellists left to right: Dr. Imran Ibrahim (DNV GL), Jon Diller (Spear Power Systems), Ma Shiao (BOS Offshore & Marine), Dr Sanjay C Kuttan (Singapore Maritime Institute)