Significant milestones in using LNG and battery power in passenger ships have been reached this quarter
Costa Cruises’ revolutionary LNG-powered Costa Smeralda is being delivered in Q4 2019 this year (see pages 22-25), helping to make LNG more available to other cruise ships, along with sister ship AIDAnova. The two ships are leading the way in northern Europe with bunkering being carried out in Barcelona, and future bunkering planned in Southampton and Port Canaveral.
The operational experience the cruise company will gain with Costa Smeralda, and is gaining with AIDANova, is important for LNG-fuelled ships going forward. For example, the company identified a bunkering challenge: with conventional coastal LNG tankers being converted for bunkering operations, Carnival Corp had an issue with overhanging lifeboats it solved by using a pontoon between the ship and bunker vessel.
And Carnival Corp senior vice president maritime affairs Tom Strang adds “we have been working with Shell and our operational team on board to improve the bunkering on a continual basis.”
Developing bunkering infrastructure and operational experience is crucial when you consider that Carnival Corp has 10 LNG ships its orderbook and LNG-fuelled vessels make up 44% of the global cruise ship orderbook.
And passenger ships using battery technology has also escalated. Color Line’s Color Hybrid has been launched – the largest plug-in battery hybrid ferry in the world (see pages 11-15). The vessel’s builders emphasise the importance of the battery power notation used – which will be instrumental in building battery ferries going forward. Ulstein Fosen Design and Engineering manager Per Edvin Tande says “I would like to emphasise the battery power notation [it was built to DNV GL’s notation], it is a fully certified battery-power propulsion vessel despite being hybrid.
PST had the good fortune to visit fully battery-powered E-ferry Ellen in Denmark in September. There, the ferry operator explained both the challenges and positives after a month of operations (see page 16). Learning about “teething problems” and how to fix them is only going to help other operators following in its footsteps.
This ferry is important for the passenger ship ferry in many ways: it is the world’s largest all-electric ferry in terms of battery power, and the project is supported by the European Commission’s nearly €80Bn (US$90.5Bn) research and innovation initiative Horizon 2020. This represents an important step in bringing carbon-free technology to the ferry sector, as the E-ferry is receiving the funding to provide a business case to encourage other operators to invest in fully battery-operated newbuilds. As part of its EU funding, Ærø Kommune is required to log all data to provide concrete numbers on the operational costs of running the ferry.
Initial estimates suggested Ellen would be 40% cheaper to run operationally compared to a diesel alternative – this is surely going to be encouraging for other ferry operators to hear.
Furthermore, batteries are becoming more compact, lighter and cheaper, allowing them to become more attainable. For example, Leclanché batteries have moved from 145 MWh per kg in 2015 to 210 MWh per kg by the end of this year, allowing the battery manufacturer to reduce costs and help market adoption (see page 64).