As a technology leader in vessel electrification Wärtsilä is investing in and developing solutions to support this important and growing segment of marine vessels. With efficiency and emissions high on the agenda for governments and regulatory bodies fully electric vessels are become more common and the capabilities are increasing fast.
The efficiency of an electric propulsion system can be as much as 90% due to the low loss from the system and is being adopted by many vessel types, including - ferries, tugs, and in land waterway vessels.
We believe that all vessel types and operating profiles that are capable of becoming fully electric will migrate to this fast developing, technology driven propulsion solution. Prime vessels type that will take advantage first:
Ferries are part of the local infrastructure and day to day life for the local communities. Depending on the route they dock at regular intervals from the same locations. This makes them ideal vessels for full electric propulsion due to shorter distances and the turnaround time when they dock. While the onboard electric propulsion system is often simple, the onshore charging infrastructure is not. The turnaround time of a ferry can be short, which means the time to re-charge is also limited. The local grid is often weak, so you need onshore energy storage system to buffer electricity and allow faster charging at higher power levels.
Tugs are critical to the safe entry and docking of many vessels in ports globally. Also here the operating pattern can often be repeated regularly: transit to the vessel – light assist most of the time – heavy assist when needed – transit back to docking area. With an extended time at dock this provides a convenient time to charge the batteries. The operating profile of most tugs required for tugs is ideally suited to fully electric due to the shorter bursts of high power requirements in heavy assist mode and the shorter periods of 3-4 hours away from shore.
Inland waterway vessels also have the advantage of regular docking, but their operating pattern is very different to ferries and tugs. They run 24/7 until they reach their destination, which vary depending on the cargo schedule. For this vessel type swappable energy storage systems (containerised battery packs) are an ideal solution. The swappable containers are stored and charged at intervals along the waterway and swapped when the vessel is passing or can be coordinated with cargo loading or unloading.