Representatives of some of the key players in the field of maritime hybrid and electric technology offered their expertise on the business case for shipping’s uptake of the technology at our latest webinar
Sponsored by Elliott Bay Design Group and Corvus Energy, it was the second in Riviera Maritime Media’s Maritime Hybrid, Electric and Fuel Cells Webinar Week, part of our ongoing webinar series.
Panellists for the webinar were E-Ferry Ellen/Municipality of Ærø renewable energy project manager Cecilie Larsen, Elliott Bay Design Group chief electrical engineer Will Ayers, Spear Power Systems commercial director Jon Diller, Danfoss Editron marine business line director Erno Tenhunen and Corvus Energy chief commercial officer Halvard Hauso.
Mr Ayers opened proceedings by looking at the fit between access to energy and operational profiles, making the point that availability of shore side power was a key to uptake.
“The transition is very connected, solutions will be judged on the shore side component,” he said. “Short-haul vessels are the low-hanging fruit.”
Ms Larsen provided a report on the Ellen E-ferry which serves a community in southern Denmark,
discussing the investment case, crew and maintenance considerations, power supply and energy storage solutions.
Ellen sails far longer than other e-ferries and is a mobile test bed from which the EU-funded project is releasing data. Ms Larsen said results from the vessel’s first year of operation were promising for a quicker-than-anticipated return on investment.
“I can already say the conclusion of the evaluation is that, although you have a large up front investment when investing in a fully electric ferry, it is a good business case,” she said.
On the subject of maritime battery pricing, Mr Diller said the most important element is not so much the cost of the components or technology, but scale.
“Because economies of scale are such an outsize proportion of the cost, the maturity of the system and the maturity of the company delivering the system is more significant than the component pricing itself,” he said.
Mr Tenhunen covered the business case for unmanned vessels. One scenario is to use a decentralised DC configuration, which has the advantages of installation into machinery space, reduced system footprint and weight, and a light and compact design.
Mr Hauso gave an insight into hybrid electric technology on multiple vessel types. He noted that, while determining power requirements required factoring a system’s ability to handle worst case scenarios, systems are generally run at a much lower load. That operational reality gives an upside to switching to a hybrid configuration, he said.
“If you go for a hybrid, you can reduce the size of your engine. You add your battery, and together they can do the same job as a big engine but with much less fuel consumption,” he said.
How would such a hybrid configuration look? In a poll of webinar attendees asking what the future zero-emissions fuel mix might be, some 77% said battery and hydrogen together, with battery and ammonia together coming in second at 16%, battery only at 6% and hydrogen only at just 1%.
The first question from webinar attendees to the panel was a request for information on runaway heat issues and battery classification.
Ms Larsen answered that in the case of the Ellen, the initial idea was to air cool the batteries but that ultimately water-cooling had been used instead. There is a foam extinguishing system, she said, that targets the overheating cell without interfering with the rest of the cells. Ms Larsen noted that Ellen’s batteries were classed by DNV GL.
Mr Diller noted there is a wide range of type-approved battery systems available.
“I do not think it is necessary at this point in the maturity of the market for people to consider stuff that is not type-approved,” he said.
Another question concerned the availability of nickel. The general response was that while there may be temporary shortages caused by market conditions, there was sufficient availability to meet future needs.
A poll of attendees on the business case for hybrid and electric technology asked for opinions on the best technology options for long-term investment. Results were evenly split, with fully electric (30%) and plug-in hybrid coming in a joint second at 32% and fuel cell hybrid coming out on top with 38%.
In a final poll, attendees were asked to give an opinion as to what percentage of new vessels will be either hybrid battery or all electric. A quarter of newbuildings was the most popular answer, at 44% of respondents, 33% said half, 18% said three-quarters and options at either end of the spectrum -- all and none -- received 5% of votes, in total.
You can view the webinar, in full, in our webinar library.
And you can sign up to attend our upcoming webinars on our events page.
(From left to right) E-Ferry Ellen / Municipality of Ærø renewable energy project manager Cecilie Larsen, Danfoss Editron marine business line director Erno Tenhunen, Corvus Energy chief commercial officer Halvard Hauso, Spear Power Systems commercial director Jon Diller, Elliott Bay Design Group chief electrical engineer Will Ayers