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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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BlueBARGE project to pave way for bunkering anchored ships with renewable electricity

Proposal will not only serve ships at anchor, including container ships, tankers and cruise ships, but will also be able to supply power to ships in areas with difficult access to an electricity grid.





BlueBARGE project to pave way for bunkering anchored ships with renewable electricity

Fundación Valenciaport, an Applied Research, Innovation & Training centre providing services to the port and logistics cluster, on Friday (9 February) said the inaugural meeting of the BlueBARGE project, Blue bunkering of anchored ships with renewable generated electricity, took place in Athens, Greece. 

The project’s main objective is the design and development of an energy barge that will support the supply of electricity to moored and anchored ships.

The BlueBARGE initiative, coordinated by ABS Hellenic Single Member LTD and in which Fundación Valenciaport is actively participating, has a total budget of more than EUR 11 million, co-financed by CINEA’s Horizon Europe programme.

BlueBARGE will play a key role in the transformation of the maritime port sector towards the goals of electrification and decarbonisation, at European and international level.

The barge will limit polluting emissions following a modular, scalable, adaptable and flexible design approach that will facilitate its commercialisation by 2030. It will also address the issues of power supply integration, interconnection of the barge with ships, the port and the local power grid, as well as operational safety and regulatory compliance. In this way, it will offer a complete, high-availability power supply solution.

Among its main advantages is the speed with which it can be deployed in different locations as required. This reduces the need for time-consuming and costly infrastructure upgrades, especially in ports and harbour anchorage areas.

One of the most innovative points of BlueBARGE is the introduction of a novel hybrid concept that will combine the higher energy density of lithium (Li-ion) batteries with the innovative vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) solution, which introduces increased safety and service life.

The proposal will not only serve ships at anchor, including container ships, tankers and cruise ships, but will also be able to supply power to vessels moored in spaces where OPS (Onshore Power Supply) infrastructure deployment is limited or unavailable. In this way, it will be able to ensure the supply of energy in areas of difficult access where the supply from the port’s electricity grid is limited.

The project includes the completion of a feasibility study, the formulation of a sound operational strategy and business plan and the identification of possible sources of financing.  A small-scale prototype will also be developed and tested in a real controlled environment.

In this project, Fundación Valenciaport will contribute its experience in port operations, risk assessment of the use of alternative fuels and the implementation of OPS systems in port and will lead the work package focused on the evaluation and optimisation of the performance of the barge design.

Note: More information on the BlueBARGE project can be found here.


Photo credit: Fundación Valenciaport
Published: 14 February, 2024

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Singapore-based Sea Forrest secures RINA approval for SEAGEN Marine Battery System

Sea Forrest with GenPlus Pte Ltd have engineered a lithium-ion battery system that ensures safety amidst situations encountered on board vessels operating in Europe, Middle East and Southeast Asia.





Singapore-based Sea Forrest secures RINA approval for SEAGEN Marine Battery System

Classification society RINA on Friday (2 February) said it awarded a type approval certificate to Sea Forrest, a Singapore provider of specialist marine electric propulsion and energy management solutions, for its marine lithium ion battery system, jointly developed with GenPlus Pte Ltd.

The SEAGEN Marine Battery System GP-VESS-110, a 110kWh lithium-ion battery system, signified a leap forward in eco-friendly technology. 

“As the global demand for sustainable and environmentally conscious solutions increase rapidly, Sea Forrest is leading the charge with a transformative marinised battery systems,” RINA said. 

In a collaboration with GenPlus Pte Ltd, Sea Forrest has engineered a lithium-ion battery system that not only guarantees high performance but also ensures safety amidst the various situations encountered on board vessels operating in Europe, Middle East and Southeast Asia, including vibration, heat, overcurrent, and electromagnetic interference.

The type approval process adhered to the industry's latest standards, as outlined in RINA Rules for the Type Approval Certification of Lithium Battery Systems - 2022. 

“This stringent certification attests to the SEAGEN Marine Battery System's adherence to the highest quality and safety benchmarks,” RINA added.

Singapore-based Sea Forrest secures RINA approval for SEAGEN Marine Battery System

George Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Sea Forrest, said: "The RINA Type Approval Certificate for our SEAGEN Marine Battery System GP-VESS-110 marks a significant milestone in our journey towards revolutionising marine energy solutions.”

“This recognition reaffirms our commitment to delivering cutting-edge, eco-friendly technologies that not only enhance performance but also prioritise safety. As the maritime industry shifts towards sustainable practices, Sea Forrest is proud to be at the forefront, driving innovation and contributing to a cleaner, greener future for marine transportation."

Pang Yong Song, Marine South East Asia & India Area Business Development Director at RINA, said: “RINA is committed to playing a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry. This approval reinforces our dedication to innovation, sustainability, and safety, showcasing our relentless pursuit of excellence in the maritime industry.”

“We are proud to be part of this innovative solution and looking forward to supporting more shipowners, manufacturers, and technology developers in the pursuit towards decarbonisation.”


Photo credit: Sea Forrest
Published: 5 February, 2024

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Singapore startup Pyxis to scale up production of electric harbour crafts with seed fund

Pyxis has raised SGD 4.5 million in its seed funding round co-led by Motion Ventures and Shift4Good, which it will use to develop its electrification technology and ramp up production of harbour crafts.





Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore electric harbour crafts

Pyxis, a maritime electrification startup headquartered in Singapore, on Thursday (1 February) said it has raised SGD 4.5 million (USD 3.4 million) in its seed funding round co-led by maritime innovation focused fund Motion Ventures and impact fund Shift4Good.

The oversubscribed round also saw participation from Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm Seeds Capital, along with MarImpact, an equity investment platform by Transport Capital focused on low to zero emission vessels, ShipsFocus, a maritime technology venture fund, strategic marine operators and local firms including Tian San Shipping, Kim Ann Investments and LCC Resources.

Pyxis will leverage the fresh funds to accelerate the development of its electrification technology and scale up production for its various lines of electric harbour crafts.

The company was founded in 2022 by Tommy Phun, who is also a Director at local marine services provider and vessel owner-operator Eng Hup Shipping, with a decade of experience in the maritime industry.

Pyxis aims to ease mass commercialisation and adoption of electric coastal vessels by offering a one-stop, streamlined solution for existing maritime vessel owners to decarbonise their fleets comprehensively without high upfront costs.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has mandated that all new harbour crafts operating in Singapore from 2030 will have to be fully electric, run on biofuels or be compatible with net zero fuels such as hydrogen. All harbour crafts are required to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Pyxis is an answer to the global pivot to a greener and more sustainable maritime. We are on a rapid growth trajectory and the funds will assist us in achieving our net-zero goals ahead of the timeline. Our immediate focus will be to scale up production to fulfill our pipeline of order books,” said Phun, Pyxis Chief Executive.

“We are excited to confirm Shift4Good’s investment in Pyxis and looking forward to supporting the growth of the company in the coming years. Coastal vessels are very strong candidates for electrification since the range limitations of electric batteries are less of a concern. In Singapore alone, there are about 1,200 coastal vessels that could become electric by 2030. The market opportunity is huge, and we can’t wait to see the launch of the first vessel in Singapore very soon,” said Sebastien Guillaud, Co-Founder and General Partner at Shift4Good.

“Motion Ventures is thrilled to support Pyxis in our shared ambition towards maritime electrification, leveraging strong partnerships and backing from Shift4Good, Mitsui O.S.K Lines, Seeds Capital, and more. This collective effort marks a significant step towards a more sustainable and innovative maritime industry," said Shaun Hon, Founder and General Partner of Motion Ventures.

In November last year, the company announced a collaboration with Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K Lines (MOL) to develop and market electric vessels in Singapore and Japan.

In January, Pyxis, together with SP Mobility, a subsidiary of utilities major SP Group, was selected by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to pilot its vessel charging concept at Marina South Pier. 

Data collected will contribute towards the development of a national electric harbour craft (e-HC) charging infrastructure master plan, implementation plan, and national standards for e-HC charging infrastructure. This follows an earlier global call for proposal (CFP) issued by MPA to develop, operate and maintain e-HC charging points in Singapore.

Related: MOL and Pyxis to develop and market electric vessels in Singapore and Japan
Related: Singapore: Pyxis, Sydrogen to deploy hydrogen fuel solutions including harbour craft electrification
Related: MPA: Singapore to trial vessel charging concepts for electric harbour craft
Related: Singapore: MPA calls for proposals to design electric harbour craft
Related: Singapore: MPA issues call for proposal to develop electric harbour craft charging points
Related: Singapore: MPA calls for financiers and insurers to support adoption of electric harbour craft
Related: Singapore: MPA to conduct industry briefing on EOI for electric harbour craft
Related: Singapore harbourcraft will need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050
Related: MPA factsheet outlines local schemes on reducing carbon emissions


Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 2 February, 2024

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