Zero Emission Vessels – The Tide is Turning

Battery based energy storage systems for marine applications are finally moving, cleanly along the global waterfront at full speed.
The UN Report on climate change on November 2, 2014, stated that the unregulated use of carbon based fuels must cease by the end of the century. While people can debate the causes of global climate change, this type of strong statement is increasingly familiar. The shipping industry is one of the largest consumers of carbon-based fuel, and as such, has great reason to be concerned. That said; from the ferries that transport people and fuel across rivers, to Offshore Support Vessels (OSVs), and a dozen other types of workboat hulls, commercial vessels are vital to the economy and security of the world.
For decades, marine architects and operations managers have made great increases in efficiency to reduce fuel consumption costs. A vessel built today is far more efficient than one that was built 20 years ago. Advances in computer modeling of hull shapes have lowered resistance in the water and composite materials or lightweight aluminum are being used where possible to reduce weight. Even the anti-fouling paint used on the hull, and the impact on a vessel’s performance, is taken into consideration. 
In the engine room, newer engines run more efficiently and burn less fuel, due to advanced computer controls. Propellers are tuned for maximum efficiency, scrubbers are being used to further reduce pollution and LNG is being touted as the next big clean idea in marine fuel. But they all use carbon based fuel that, according to the UN, will soon be phased out. We do not currently have a “Flux Capacitor” like the one imagined in the movie Back to the Future, and until we do, we will be stuck with what we know. Or will we?

Lower Emission Electric Hybrids
Vancouver, Canada based Corvus Energy Ltd., a global supplier of battery-based energy storage systems for marine use, has engineered the world’s only purpose built, industrial quality lithium battery suitable for use in large commercial vessels. In fact, Corvus, founded in 2009, has a number of firsts under its belt: the world’s first hybrid Offshore supply vessel, the world’s first full electric passenger and car ferry, Europe’s first hybrid tugboat, and the world’s largest hybrid vessel ever. In 2015, Corvus will commission the world’s first LNG powered hybrid ferry.
We all know hybrids right? Aren’t they the weakling, underpowered cars you find outside coffee shops in Seattle? Not anymore. In fact, Corvus claims their batteries can outperform large diesel generators in bursts, they do not require ramping up to put out the power which is available any time it’s needed.
It is this instant, always on power: that’s what makes it so attractive to ferry operators such as Denmark-based Scandlines. They installed a 2.7MWh Corvus Energy Storage System (ESS) on board one of their 466 foot, 1,200 passenger ferries, Prinsesse Benedikte. They use the battery to provide spinning reserve, allowing them to remove one gen-set completely. This, combined with the ability to load level on the remaining generators, provided them with a 25% reduction in fuel consumption. The fuel bill for their first vessel is lower now than when they built her in 1994, and the vessel requires about 30% less maintenance due to the engines operating in their correct load range. And, Scandlines has converted another three sister vessels to Corvus hybrid and now has the largest hybrid ferry fleet in the world.
Another first from Northern Europe was the offshore supply vessel Viking Lady. Originally launched in 2009, she has been outfitted with various propulsion technologies in an effort to reduce fuel consumption and pollution. But, the vessel is a working OSV in the North Sea, so safety and reliability come first. Arguably the model for green power and technology, she is powered by dual fuel LNG diesel engines and uses a Corvus Energy ESS to provide the huge power bursts required to hold position while performing stationkeeping duties. Lightweight and modular in design, the Corvus system sits on the foredeck housed in a DNV-certified container and feeds into the vessel’s electrical system as needed. This allows the vessel to reduce the overall power output required by its generators and reduces the fluctuation of generator output/rpm in response to load.
The modular design of the system allows for expansion of the energy storage component as required. If the vessel changes duty and is used in a different operational capacity, the ESS component may be expanded or reduced as required. Moreover, from a system design perspective, a single propulsion system design may be used on a variety of different vessels to meet different needs. In the case of large fleet operators, the modular system could be deployed as needed and reassigned to a different vessel if the duty cycle warrants it.

Hybrid Propulsion – not just Noise
Hybrid propulsion technology is quietly making waves in other places, as well. Greener operations, fuel savings and/or the elimination of emissions are not the only reasons to go ‘hybrid.’ For example, maritime engineering consultant and frequent MarineNews contributor Bob Kunkel and his firm, Amtech, were recently employed to develop a lithium battery hybrid propulsion research vessel. The propulsion system developed by Northern Lights, BAE Hybrid Systems and Corvus Energy was introduced due to a request to reduce emissions and fuel consumption along with providing a quieter platform for collecting data and teaching. Built at Robert E. Derecktor shipyard in Mamaroneck, New York, the Spirit of the Sound hybrid application is being used as a platform for offshore wind farm maintenance where emissions at the farms will be an issue during construction. The research vessel is used to collect water samples and track marine life in Long Island Sound and the actual “noise” benefit of the silent propulsion system was not realized until sea trials were conducted and schools of fish and other marine life surrounded the vessel during its movements in and out of the harbor, without machinery noise or wake.  

Zero Emissions Full Electric Power
While current battery technology is not capable of providing enough capacity for an extended trip, many of the commercial vessels being used today have short durations of run time followed by predictable periods of inactivity. A short run ferry is an ideal candidate for full electric propulsion; many ferries run for 20-30 minutes and are followed by a 10-15 minute offloading/loading phase. Indeed, the 2014 ship of the year, announced at SMM in Hamburg in September is such a vessel. Norled Ampere, built by Fjellstrand of Norway, is powered by a Corvus Energy ESS. Fully battery electric powered, she has no generator on board. The solution is, in a word, elegant in its simplicity.
Due to issues in the local grid where the vessel was operating, there was not enough power available to ‘quick charge’ the batteries after each crossing. Upgrading the local utility grid was deemed time consuming, disruptive and very costly. The engineers at Corvus realized that a battery-to-battery transfer of energy would be far more efficient. In this way, the system would be separated in three parts: an ESS on the vessel, and a shore station on each side. The shore stations are used to fast charge the vessel. When the vessel leaves the dock, the battery then slowly recharges from the grid. With the 30 minute crossing, 15 minute unloading and loading, then another 30 minutes return trip, the battery has ample time to recharge at a slower rate, which is easily handled by the existing grid infrastructure.
With a shore station on each side, the vessel battery is fully recharged after each crossing and maintains reserve for additional crossings. Should a power failure occur on either side it is possible for Ampere to recharge on one side only and maintain service without disruption. The Ampere replaces an existing steel monohull design, using diesel mechanical drives with the new Zerocat design. As the name implies, the Zerocat is a catamaran, 260 feet long and is built from aluminum. The owners expect to earn a rapid return on investment from the vessel due to the fact that their operating costs for fuel are now zero. The vessel she replaces burned more than 260,000 gallons of fuel per year and, due to its age, was considered a high polluter. The propulsion system now requires no maintenance as the battery pack and other components are fully computerized, maintenance-free units, providing further advantages to the owner.
Building better, faster, more efficient vessels is not new. It has been happening since the first vessels were launched thousands of years ago by our ancestors. The application of diesel electric motors to vessels is not new either; it’s been widespread for more than 20 years. Adding a lithium battery IS new, and while it is still early days for the use of battery hybrids in commercial marine, the trend is certainly growing. Where else can you find an innovation that reduces costs, increases safety and reliability and also reduces emissions to zero?

(As published in the December 2014 edition of Marine News -

Construction starts on third hybrid ferry

Ms Sturgeon cut the first steel during a visit to Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) on the River Clyde.
The £12.3m contract to build the new vessel, known as Hull 727, was awarded in September.
It is Ferguson's first major contract since it was rescued from closure by Clyde Blowers Capital earlier this year.
Ms Sturgeon said: "This investment by the Scottish government is a vote of confidence in our shipbuilding industry, and shows that Scotland remains at the forefront of ferry design and innovation.
"We want our ferries to be sustainable and reliable. This new vessel will be fuel efficient and have lower maintenance costs, whilst ensuring a quality service for passengers."
The new vessel is expected to be launched in spring 2016, before entering service in the autumn of that year.
It will use a low carbon hybrid system, that combines traditional diesel power with electric battery power.
Ms Sturgeon started the process of cutting the first steel for the third hybrid ferryMs Sturgeon started the process of cutting the first steel for the new ferry
It will be built to accommodate 150 passengers, 23 cars or two HGVs, with a service speed of nine knots.
The Scottish government investment, which is being taken forward by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), secured about 80 jobs.
Clyde Blowers Capital chief executive and chairman Jim McColl said: "This is a great day for Ferguson Marine, for the workforce, Port Glasgow and commercial ship building on the Clyde.
"When we acquired the company three months ago I said that I believed there was a great opportunity to grow the business,
I'm even more convinced of that now."
CMAL will hold a competition in the New Year to decide the name of the new vessel.
MV Hallaig and MV Lochinvar are currently in service with Calmac Ferries Ltd.
The Hallaig was launched in December 2012 and operates on the Sconser-Raasay route.
The Lochinvar was launched in May last year and operates between Tarbert and Portavadie.

Container for LNG Hybrid Barge Reaches Hamburg

The first container with LNG in Hamburg. Aksel Skjervheim, Shell Gasnor; Dirk Lehmann, Becker Marine Systems; and Max Kommorowski, Becker Marine Systems (Photo: Becker Marine Systems)
In the coming year, the HUMMEL (bumblebee) LNG Hybrid Barge will enable Becker Marine Systems to supply low-emission power to cruise ships lying at port in Hamburg. The first container with liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel has now arrived in the Hanseatic City.
As part of the LNG Hybrid Barge’s testing program, the first gas container for the marine fuel was delivered on Monday. “The testing of the gas engines at the Port of Hamburg is a first for both the classification society and participating authorities,” said Dirk Lehmann and Henning Kuhlmann, both Managing Directors of the global market leader for high-performance rudders.
The gas container from Shell Ganor, represented by Aksel Skjervheim, Marine LNG Business Development Manager, was formally delivered to Becker Marine Systems at the Blohm + Voss shipyard. The container with the marine fuel had previously made the journey from the Fluxys LNG Terminal in Zeebrugge, Belgium to Hamburg.
The barge works like a floating power plant and uses low-emission LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) to supply environmentally-friendly energy to cruise ships. Compared to conventional marine diesel with 0.1% sulphur content, sulphur dioxides and soot are no longer emitted. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide are also significantly reduced.
The LNG Hybrid Barge, developed by Becker Marine Systems and recently christened the HUMMEL (bumblebee), will officially commence operations at the Port of Hamburg at the beginning of the cruise season in spring 2015.

Electric Boats, Small Submarines and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) 2014-2024

Marine electric vehicles are now a rapidly growing market due to new capability, affordability and legislation banning or restricting internal combustion engines. Our research finds that the market for electric water craft, including those on and under water, will increase rapidly from $2.6 billion in 2013 to $7.3 billion in 2024. In addition there is a market for electric outboard motors that will more than triple in value as high power pure electric versions become increasingly viable. There is also a new market for water borne electric aircraft.

Scope of coverage

This report covers hybrid and pure electric marine electric vehicles; on-water and underwater, inland and seagoing. It covers the closely allied topics of electric outboard motors and electric planes operating from water and even has some mention of electrification benefiting conventional craft. Overall, it encompasses leisure, military, industrial, commercial and other applications and the technology trends.

Marine electric vehicles make new things possible and increasingly they have lower cost of ownership and are the only practicable way of meeting the newer, more onerous pollution regulations for inland waterways and harbours. Marine electric craft are increasingly made by existing shipyards making conventional craft but there is also a trend for those making land or airborne electric vehicles to make marine ones as well. Sometimes we see Apple levels of innovation with new entrants, something notably absent with such things as electric cars. As with all electric vehicles, the advances in the components in these vehicles and their infrastructure are proceeding disruptively rather than incrementally and the report discusses this in the marine context.

The many interviews and investigations carried out in the preparation of the report have revealed a market that is larger and growing faster than is popularly assumed, though some incumbents miss what is happening with new entrants and in other parts of the world. The military aspect for example is very concentrated in the USA and involves small numbers and large unit prices until such things as swarming robot jellyfish become a reality. Water borne electric aircraft and the hybridisation of ocean going leisure yachts are impressive in Europe, where the leader in AUVs is located. Some of the most advanced pure electric and fuel cell hybrid AUVs are inIndia and Japan. Clearly a global view, presented here for the first time, is essential if the full potential is to be understood. 50 organisations from across the world are profiled and many more are mentioned in context.
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DRS/Lithiumstart partnership aims at high-reliability shipboard military energy storage

MILWAUKEE, 8 Dec. 2014. DRS Power and Control Technologies Inc. in Milwaukee is joining hands with Lithiumstart LLC in South San Francisco, Calif., to integrate technologies into high-power commercial andmilitary energy storageapplications.
Power electronicsexperts from the two companies will combine DRS power electronic modules with Lithiumstart’s BluFlex Energy Storage System (ESS) technology to create a powerful and scalable energy storage module, officials say.
The DRS power electronic modules provide high-density power conversion capability, while the Lithiumstart BluFlex ESS consists of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) 48-volt stacking modules for marine, stationary, and vehicle applications ranging from 50 kilowatts to 100 megawatts, and from 48 volts to 2 kilovolts.
The combined systems are for naval surface warships to provide stable backup power, fuel-efficient operations, and reduced total ownership costs, company officials say. Additional markets include commercial work boat applications and other military systems.
DRS power electronic modules are on several U.S. Navy platforms and programs. Lithiumstart’s ESS technology capitalizes on internal and U.S. Department of Defense investment in high-power density storage including U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Army applications.
The DRS/Lithiumstart system is scalable from 500 kilowatts to tens of megawatts. The joint Energy Storage Module is for pulse power with improved overall safety and reliability driven by lithium iron phosphate chemistry and by limiting the stored energy content consistent with the application and mission.
For more information contact DRS Technologies online at, or Lithiumstart LLC at

Battery Powered Ferry Completes 4,000 Trips

Energy Matters

Lithium ion batteries are increasingly transforming energy storage and transport – even in heavy marine applications.
Canadian company Electrovaya has announced that the KF Hisarøy electric cable ferry, which has been operating between Mjånes and Hisarøy in Norway, has racked up a full year of flawless operation.
The ferry features a prototype 100kWh rechargeable battery system developed by Electrovaya in partnership with Solund Verft, HAFS Elektro & Rør AS and Electrovaya´s subsidiary Miljobil Grenland AS in Norway.
The Wergeland Halsvik AS owned vessel is making approximately ten 1.6 kilometre round-trips per day between the mainland and the Hisarøy Island and can carry 49 passengers and 6 cars.
“Wergeland Halsvik AS is very pleased with the ferry and the battery system delivered from the yard and its cooperating partners, ” said Hans Wergeland. “As this market grows, and the demand for environmentally friendly, zero carbon foot-print energy solutions increases, this system is well-suited to further opportunities in the marine sector.”
The battery energy storage system is expected to save  approximately 180,750 liters of fuel over its service life and potentially avoid 480 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, 9 tonnes of particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, 2 tonnes of carbon monoxide and 2 tonnes of other type of emissions.
The ferry is driven by two winches and the battery system is recharged on the mainland between the round trips and overnight.
The battery system is based on Electrovaya’s SuperPolymer 2.0 technology; which the company says provides a faster, more efficient transport of lithium. This equates to its ability to pack more energy into smaller and lighter spaces. Electrovaya manufactures prismatic cells that have a laminated polymer ‘pouch’ construction with a flat geometry.
Electrovaya says the marine electric vehicle market is expected to jump from $2.6 billion to $6.3 billion by 2023.
“Demand will come from both on-water and underwater electric vehicles for use both on inland waterways and the sea. The key advantages of electric powertrains for marine vehicles are the lower maintenance requirements and minimal noise, air and water pollution.”
A prior study found 47 of a total of 125 ferry connections in Norway have the potential for battery operation now, with a further 34 able to go electric in the future. If renewable energy sourced electricity were used to recharge, it would make these ferry operations very green.

U.K. seeks energy specialists, including hydropower, marine energy


The United Kingdom seeks proposals from energy technical specialists, including specialists in hydropower and marine energy, to participate in a framework agreement to help carry out energy and climate change policies. Proposals are due December 22.
The U.K.'s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) oversees low-carbon policies and initiatives to enable the transition to a green economy, buoying the hydropower and marine energy industries, among others. DECC awarded more than US$833,800 in February to marine energy developer Minesto, IT Power and National Physical Laboratory, as part of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund.
DECC now seeks proposals for engineering-related scientific and technical services for 48-month framework agreements covering 22 lots of services for varied energy fields including hydroelectric and marine technologies as well as nuclear, wind, solar, bioenergy, fuel cells, petrochemicals, geothermal, innovative fossil fuels, energy storage, carbon capture and others.
Lot 8 for hydroelectric and marine technologies, including wave and tidal power, seeks services to ensure DECC is fully informed of new technological developments and practices in the energy and climate change arena. Up to six highest-scoring suppliers are to be appointed to the lot's framework agreement, valued between 100 and 450,000 pounds (US$157 and US$705,277).
Proposals in English are due by 2 p.m. December 22 via the Delta eSourcing portal at For information, see the website or contact Marvin Taylor/Katherine Chislett, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), 3 Whitehall Place, SW1Y 2AW London, United Kingdom; (44) 3000682842; E-mail:; Internet:

Elkon Awarded Contract for Two Seaspan Hybrid Ferries

December 09, 2014

Elkon (Istanbul), a subsidiary of Imtech Marine, has been awarded an interesting contract from Sedef Shipyard (Tuzla, Istanbul) for the delivery of the electrical equipment, propulsion system and services for two Canadian Seaspan hybrid ferries.

The two, 148.9 m, dual-fueled (diesel and liquefied natural gas) ferries are propelled by a hybrid-electrical propulsion system and can accommodate up to 59 trailers. These state-of-the-art ferries will replace aging vessels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, while ensuring the highest level of efficiency, performance and reliability.

For these vessels Elkon will contribute substantially to reducing emissions, by being responsible for the design, specification, production and installation of the complete Electrical system, including the Hybrid Electrical Propulsion system, battery system and automation system.

Ali Can Yurdakul, Elkon Manager Sales & Marketing, comments: “These vessels are complex and very innovative with the additional hybrid battery system. Elkon is proud to have been awarded this contract from Sedef – a long-term partner of our company – to assist the yard in completing this innovative and sustainable project. Of course, we will make sure that everything is on time, of good quality and within budget.”

Elkon is recognized as a leading company in Turkey for electrical engineering and installation. “We have some 50 highly specialized electrical and mechanical engineers, and next to that Elkon has more than 350 employees active in execution and installation of projects. We have delivered more than 500 vessels over the last 30 years,” adds Mr Yurdakul.

Elkon and Sedef Shipyard are based in the heart of the shipbuilding industry near Istanbul and have worked with each other for more than two decades. Both Elkon and its parent company, Imtech Marine, have considerable experience in working on hybrid vessels.

Imtech Marine has been active in the Canadian market for many years and has offices in Vancouver, Halifax and Quebec.  Recently, Imtech Marine   also supplied a hybrid propulsion system for the diesel electric, hybrid ferries operated by CMAL, on the west coast of Scotland.

Seaspan Ferries Corporation has over 100 years of marine transportation experience operating to and from Vancouver Island. Construction on the ferries is scheduled to start in early 2015 and both are expected to be in operation by late 2016. Elkon’s dedicated project team will start installation on the two new vessels mid next year.