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DNV on decarbonizing ferries: Technological innovation and electrification

Recent technological innovations in the ferry industry have focused on electrification and battery power; DNV presents three key technologies driving the decarbonization of ferries.




DNV on decarbonizing ferries: Technological innovation and electrification

Classification society DNV on Thursday (16 November) released a Maritime Impact report on the decarbonization of ferries. The following is excerpts from the article: 

As shipping examines a range of options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recent technological innovations in the ferry industry have focused on electrification and battery power. DNV presents three key technologies driving the decarbonization of ferries.

With IMO decarbonization targets becoming more ambitious, and social and political pressure building, each sector of the maritime industry needs to examine the most practical and cost-efficient ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For ferries, electrification and battery power are high on the agenda.

Electrification and battery power perfect fit for ferries

“Ferries are the perfect segment for electrification and battery power,” says Hans Eivind Siewers, Segment Director of Passenger Ships and RoRo at DNV. “Short, regular routes between the same ports makes it easier to charge regularly and reduces the need for large batteries.”

Three new technologies have emerged in recent years which are expected to have an impact on the ferries market. For all, the development has been facilitated by recent technological developments, most notably improvements in the energy density of batteries. Two of these innovations are based on hydrofoiling, an established technology which is making a comeback due to energy efficiency gains.

Hydrofoiling: Back to the future with Fast Foil Ferry

Hydrofoil technology – where a foil lifts the vessel up from the water as it gathers speed – was popular in the 1970s due to passenger comfort and high speeds, but this was eventually sidelined due to poor fuel and energy consumption. However, over the past few years, advancements in high strength and lightweight composite materials, gains in hydrofoiling technology and – most importantly – increases in the energy density of batteries have reopened the door to this technology.

Collaborative innovation: Developing a fully electric Fast Foil Ferry

In 2020, Kitsap Transit (a public transit agency serving Kitsap County, Washington, part of the Seattle metropolitan area), Foil Ferry LLC (a collaboration between Anacortes-based Bieker Boats and Seattle naval architecture firm Glosten) and Washington Maritime Blue received a Federal Transit Administration innovation grant to develop a proof-of-concept design for a fully electric Fast Foil Ferry. This has led to the delivery of a preliminary design for a high-speed hydrofoil passenger ferry, aided by DNV-led studies around shoreside infrastructure and permitting requirements and economic and environmental impacts.

Decarbonization just one advantage of Fast Foil Ferry

“These ferries use around one-third of the energy of conventional fast ferries and have zero local emissions,” says Cassidy Fisher, Programme Director of Washington Maritime Blue, which is coordinating the Fast Foil Ferry project. “They produce negligible waves as the hulls fly above the water’s surface. This is important for protecting sensitive shorelines such as those along Rich Passage, Washington, which makes up a significant portion of the Bremerton–Seattle route.”

With a cruising speed of 30 knots (around 55 km/h), the ferries have a range of about 30 nautical miles. This means they will be able to complete one full round trip on the proposed Bremerton to Seattle commuter route without recharging.

Financial benefits make the business case for Fast Foil Ferry

Besides the extensive list of advantages, including reduced motion compared to non-foiling hulls, providing passengers with a more comfortable ride, reduced noise, and the hope that increased ferry traffic will result in fewer cars on the roads of Washington State, the Fast Foil Ferry will also deliver significant savings to its operators.

“We have estimated a 35% reduction in annual operating costs compared to conventional diesel-powered ferries, mainly due to energy savings, although this depends on the price of diesel,” continues Fisher. “Alongside the decarbonization benefits, this is a strong business case and removes any significant barriers to further development.”

The project is aiming to secure another USD 4 million in federal funding so it can advance and complete the design development stage, while full-scale trials, construction and deployment, and the development of shoreside infrastructure will require another USD 18 million in funding.

From LNG to battery power

In Uruguay, ferry operator Buquebus is preparing to start operating the largest battery-powered ship in the world. Currently under construction at Tasmania-based shipbuilder Incat, the 130-metre ship will have a battery capacity of over 40 MWh, almost four times the capacity of any battery-powered vessel constructed before.

Following the success of the DNV-classed HSC Francisco Papa, Incat’s first LNG vessel delivered to Buquebus in 2013, the new DNV-classed vessel was originally planned to run on LNG. This was switched to electric/battery propulsion after Robert Clifford, founder of Incat, showed Buquebus his plans for a new electric/battery-powered ship.

“Our President Mr. Lopez Mena asked Incat if it was possible to use the electric propulsion on our future vessel,” explains Gerardo Babini, Technical Manager, Buquebus. “After a couple of weeks of weight and speed calculations, Incat came back to us and said it would be possible.”

The future of ferries is battery-powered

While the Buquebus ferry is very different in design to the two hydrofoil vessels, all of these technologies showcase the key role that electrical/battery power can play in the decarbonization of shipping. This is likely to increase, particularly in the ferry industry, as battery technology develops even further.

“These technologies are all extremely exciting and impressive, but we can expect so much more from battery power over the next ten years,” says Hans Eivind Siewers. “Improvements in density will extend ranges, opening up longer routes and reducing the reliance on scarce carbon-neutral fuels. This will contribute greatly to shipping’s quest to reach net-zero by 2050.

Note: DNV’s full Maritime Impact report on ‘Decarbonizing ferries: Technological innovation and electrification’ can be found here.

Photo credit: DNV / Incat Tasmania 
Published: 24 November, 2023

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Berlin’s 138-year-old passenger vessel gets electric power makeover by Torqeedo

Torqeedo’s Customized Solutions team converted Berlin’s oldest passenger vessel to electric power, saving over 150 litres of diesel per operating hour.





Berlin’s 138-year-old passenger vessel gets electric power makeover by Torqeedo

Torqeedo, developer and manufacturer of electric and hybrid drives, on Monday (13 May) said owners of Kaiser Friedrich, a passenger vessel steeped in history and built in 1886, refitted the historic 30-metre vessel with a modern, emission-free electric drive system by Torqeedo.

The vessel recently marked its return to service with a ceremonial christening in central Berlin. 

The Kaiser Friedrich, a twin-screw steamship, plied Berlin’s waters for almost 80 years before it was decommissioned in 1967 and converted into offices and residential space. In 1986, the German Museum of Technology purchased the 100-ton boat and restored it to its original appearance. 

For several years, the Kaiser Friedrich once again was in operation with historical city tours until its engines, which used over 150 litres of diesel per hour, made operation both ecologically and economically unviable. The museum reclaimed the boat in 2012 and started the search for Kaiser Friedrich’s next chapter.

In 2022, Volker Marhold and Julius Dahmen, who both have experience converting historic boats to electric propulsion, purchased the Kaiser Friedrich. In close collaboration with Torqeedo’s Customized Solutions team, the conversion to an ultra-efficient electric drive system with twin Deep Blue 50 kW inboard motors and a 400 kWh Deep Blue battery bank was expertly completed by the Tangermünde Shipbuilding and Development Company in Genthin, Germany.

Starting on 13 May, Berliners and visitors to the “Athens on the Spree” can enjoy an eco-friendly city tour on board this legendary passenger vessel. At night, the city’s most famous boat transforms into a floating beer garden during the 3.5-hour Old Berlin Beer Evening.

Dahmen, co-owner of the 138-year-old vessel and operator of Berliner Welle, a company that provides a variety of historic boats for excursions and events, said: “Whisper-quiet, environmentally conscious and free of local emissions, the Kaiser Friedrich will again be available to the people of Berlin. This is the third Berliner Welle excursion boat that we have converted to Torqeedo electric drives, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration.

“The Kaiser Friedrich is a longtime maritime landmark of the city,” said Mr. Marhold. “And now it is also a symbol of transformation towards the mobility of the future. And what a wonderful future for Berlin’s oldest passenger vessel, which can now once again welcome passengers to celebrate life with them while enjoying breathtaking views of our beautiful city."

“Torqeedo’s electric drive and energy management systems for commercial vessels are transforming the world’s waterways,” said Fabian Bez, CEO of Torqeedo GmbH. 

“Major cities like Berlin are taking measures to reduce boating and shipping’s ecological, health and climate impacts. But it’s not just happening in urban areas: Lake Constance is working toward a holistic decarbonization strategy, and we see similar efforts implemented around the globe.”

“An electrification project of this size and historical significance is an important step forward,” continued Bez. “Commercial vessels of all sizes can be cleaner, quieter, and healthier for our natural and human environments. The technology is here today. It’s time to go electric.”

The historic 150-passenger vessel will enter regular service on 13 May 2024.


Photo credit: Torqeedo
Published: 14 May, 2024

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HD Hyundai, ABS partner to establish international standards for ships with electric propulsion

HD KSOE and HD Hyundai Heavy Industries partnered with ABS to develop a transmission and distribution system for ships with electric propulsion and establish related international standards.





HD Hyundai, ABS partner to establish international standards for ships with electric propulsion

HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. (HD KSOE) and HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, on Friday (3 May) said they partnered with classification society American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to develop a transmission and distribution system for ships with electric propulsion and establish related international standards.

HD Hyundai announced the development of a medium voltage direct current transmission and distribution system (MVDC) for ships. MVDC refers to a technology that transmits high-voltage electricity between 1.5kV and 100kV as direct current. It has the advantage of lower energy loss compared to AC transmission, attracting attention as a next-generation power supply method. 

In particular, when MVDC is applied to large electric propulsion ships, electrical energy integration efficiency can be improved by up to 20% compared to the existing AC power system.

However, although marine MVDC has the advantage of high energy efficiency, it is difficult to commercialise it as international standards have not been established. This has led to HD KSOE and HD Hyundai Heavy Industries signing an agreement with ABS to address these issues. 

Previously, HD KSOE built Korea's first DC-based hybrid electric propulsion ship Ulsan Taehwa by applying a low-voltage direct current (LVDC) transmission and distribution system. The Ulsan Taehwa is a medium-sized ship weighing 2,800 tonnes. 

“MVDC technology is not an option but a necessity for carbon-free large ships and next-generation electric propulsion ships,” said Kwon Byeong-hoon, head of HD KSOE’s Electrification Centre. 

“We plan to lead the large ship electric propulsion market by developing MVDC for ships and establishing international standards.” He said.


Photo credit: HD Hyundai
Published: 9 May 2024

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SMW 2024: Giving the harbour craft sector a leg up in maritime’s decarbonisation drive

‘We have to bring costs down. Financing can be a problem because new, sexy tech comes with a price,” says Mr Michael Phoon of Singapore Shipping Association in a panel discussion.





SMW 2024: Giving the harbour craft sector a leg up in maritime’s decarbonisation drive

The article ‘Giving the harbour craft sector a leg up in maritime’s decarbonisation drive’ was first published on Issue 4 of the Singapore Maritime Week 2024 Show Dallies; it has been reproduced in its entirety on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times with permission from The Nutgraf and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore:

Jaime Niam
[email protected] 

The harbour craft sector is set to go almost fully electric by 2030, but more can be done to ensure it does not get left behind in the shadows of larger ocean-going ships.

One key issue is costs, said panellists at a discussion on transforming the harbour craft sector on Wednesday.

“We have to bring costs down. Financing can be a problem because new, sexy tech comes with a price,” said Mr Michael Phoon, Executive Director of the Singapore Shipping Association, who moderated the panel.

While Ms Huang Sipei, Vice President of Sustainability at Institutional Banking Group, DBS Bank, acknowledged that financing new technology can be a challenge, she also said that the local environment is becoming increasingly hospitable, with DBS Bank being supportive of this green transition.

“Government schemes are helpful in sharing risks with banks and mitigating uncertainties,” she said. For example, homegrown integrated marine and offshore services provider Penguin International took up the Enterprise Financing Scheme-Green loan from DBS Bank and Enterprise Singapore to launch Singapore’s first all-electric commuter ferry, Penguin Refresh, to Pulau Bukom island.

But it is not simply about mitigating the cost of new technology. Because the harbour craft sector is highly fragmented, streamlining and consolidating its business operations – both seaward and landward – is also imperative in lowering costs and enhancing efficiency, said Mr Danny Lien, President of the Singapore Association of Shipsuppliers & Services. As of July 2023, there were about 1,600 harbour crafts plying the waters of the Port of Singapore, though they are owned by many diverse groups of operators.

“We are trying to create a more consolidated effort with Pyxis…Instead of a single company in this industry trying to solve this, we must synergise our resources together,” said Mr Tommy Phun, Founder of Pyxis, a tech start-up that is helping coastal vessels switch from diesel to electricity.

“Going forward, a role that will be extremely important is that of the port orchestrator,” added Mr Nakul Malhotra, Vice President (Emerging Opportunities Portfolio) of Wilhelmsen Group, referring to how the various activities and processes that happen within a port must be coordinated.

The multi-purpose Jurong Port is one good example. “People see (ports) as just infrastructure, but we have capabilities beyond just providing land,” said Mr Desmond Ong, Chief Digital Officer of Jurong Port.

“The data (from the digital platforms and operating systems we built) allows us to streamline the supply side and become more optimal…and industry players can leverage these data points.”

Singapore Maritime Week 2024 was organised by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore from 15 to 19 April. 

Related: Transport Minister launches Singapore’s first fully-electric ferry “Penguin Refresh”
Related: Homegrown start-up Pyxis unveils Singapore’s first electric port passenger launch


Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Article credit: The Nutgraf/ Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 25 April 2024

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