Seatrade Maritime is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Is battery power set to charge-up shortsea shipping?

Is battery power set to charge-up shortsea shipping?
While there has been much talked about and written about LNG as a fuel for shipping many of the other alternatives to bunker fuel such as sails and battery power are largely dismissed as having extremely limited capability. It was then to some surprise when talking to DNV GL executive vice president and coo Remi Eriksen last week that he stated he saw a bright future for battery power in shortsea shipping given the rapid advancements in charging technology.

“I think short sea shipping will see much more use of batteries in the next 10 years,” Eriksen states.

Explaining the changing he sees taking place, it is for both for hybrid diesel electric vessels and fully electric vessels depending in the their type of operation. “For batteries in terms of hybrid solutions we already see orders in Norway for hybrid offshore supply and offshore vessels where see hybrids with diesel and electric together. We now see the order for the first battery powered in operation in 2015 or late 2014, it goes for 30 minutes so it’s not a huge distance, but its fully electric.”

When it comes to offshore vessels hybrid diesel electric vessels are seen as the solution, with no need for shore side charging. “So when you are running on idle you can charge the batteries. From a redundancy point of view, up time reliability it is really good,” Eriksen explains.

One of the things driving the potential shift to the use of battery power in short sea shipping is rapid improvements in the length of time it takes to charge the batteries to relatively high level of their capacity. So for example for a ferry which has load and unload passengers it could charge shoreside during the turnaround, charging up enough for a return voyage over a short distance.

Siemens and Norwegian Shipyard Fjellstrand are developing and 80 m car ferry that can carry 120 cars and 360 passengers to serve a route between Lavik and Oppendal in Norway, which its says will be able to charge up in just 10 minutes.

Eriksen cites the latest models of electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, which he says he drives himself. “I can charge that car to 80% in 15 minutes,” he says. A full charge does, however, take five hours. Just last week US electric car manufacturer Tesla announced it would be investing $2bn in plant to build mass market electric cars.

Whether plugging in at the shore becomes the norm for shortsea shipping remains to be seen, but battery power certainly could become a real part of the mix in future fuels for shipping.