A current collaboration between DNV GL, Wartsila Norway, and EIdesvik Offshore is working tirelessly to improve battery technology, which can easily be one of the most prominent ways our ships might be run in the future.
The benefits are critical. Batteries are more environmentally sustainable and reduce CO2 emissions significantly – a challenge the maritime industry is facing very soon.
The conversion of a whole fleet is expensive, however, and even Eidesvik Offshore see it as a major challenge.
“For our operations, full conversion to electric hybrid is still not feasible, with the large amount of energy needed for each roundtrip”, Vermund Hjelland, Vice President of Technology and Development at Eidesvik, explains.
“Having said that, the non-plug-in solutions, where the battery hybrid system ensures most energy production onboard is done on favourable engine loads, ensure a significant reduction in machinery running hours, which has several financial benefits in addition to the obvious environmental benefits.”
“Eidesvik now have 4 vessels with full scale hybrid solution installed”, Hjelland continues. “Looking at the total cost and savings, there are still several unknowns, but on the saving side we mainly have the fuel saving and the reduced maintenance cost for machinery. These alone do not yet make the projects financially beneficial, but with the contribution we have received from the Governmental and Private support schemes have made the last 3 projects financially beneficial.”
“What we also foresee is that these installations will drop slightly in price. Even more importantly, when you plan for these installations in a newbuild phase, you will be able to reduce capacity on other machinery, to make sure such projects are acceptable from a financial point of view, even without any support schemes and funding, with a potential payback time of down to 3-5 years. Expected lifecycle for the systems is between 10-15 years or more, depending on the operation profile.”
With the accelerating pace of research into battery technology, it is only a matter of time that hybrid solutions will be available to not only short-route vessels, but possibly to larger and long-distance vessels, too.
“The non-plug-in hybrid solution is fully commercial available”, Hjelland announced, “and such solutions that we have been installing in our ships for the last 4-5 years, fit well into a long-distance travelling ship.”
However, there are still issues in the application of the technology.
“A long distance fully electric solution will be a great challenge for a long time, as today, our power capacity in the hybrid system is around 30-45 minutes, and with roundtrips of up to 30 days it is obvious that we are far away from fully electric capacities. That will require new technologies and power storage solutions that we haven't seen yet. But, as mentioned before, the already available solutions could and would give a significant environmental benefit for long-distance travels. We measure around 10% fuel saving and CO2 reductions and approximately 20% in NOx reduction during transit.”
And the battery technology keeps improving (Moore Law applied to batteries?) and getting cheaper :-) :-) https://t.co/VgckBtOiPQ
— Anne-Marie Warris (@AnneMarieWarris) September 25, 2017
As expert Anne Marie Wallis of Ecoreflect said, many others believe in a battery fuelled future, including Hjelland.
“For short distance, the fully electric solutions will spread rapidly, which has already started with ferries and other vessels”, Hjelland demonstrates.
“For long distances, the hybrid solutions (plug-in or not) already being financially beneficial, will spread further, as more improvements will be made on the technical solutions. This will ensure that a higher and higher part of the total power consumption would origin from electrical power, at which point plug-in and high capacity quay charging solutions will be beneficial.
“Battery solutions alone will not be the renewable solution for long-distance activity, but with the energy efficiency contribution that it offers, it goes hand in hand with renewable solutions in development as well as with the present fossil solutions. Energy efficiency should always come first, as it reduces emissions and costs in all scenarios, and it will reduce the cost thresholds for changing to new – more renewable based – technologies.”