Founder and owner of NG3 Damien Feger discusses the demands and difficulties of electric power generation for marine vessels via shore power.
Is electric propulsion the answer to a sustainable industry?
In terms of emissions reduction, electric and hybrid technology is part of a portfolio of solutions, and this tech is becoming more and more mature. Ten years ago when we received our first PLUG (power generation during loading and unloading) order, it was just to cover hotel loads for the diesel-driven Color Magic and Fantasy vessels operating in Oslo, Norway. Back then, nobody was talking about electric or hybrid propulsion for marine vessels. Today, the situation is very different.
Our PLUG Color Hybrid offers zero-emissions operation and can be found in vessels in the Sandefjord, Norway. It recharges the batteries in 25 minutes. PLUG is also used to charge the four newly built Havila hybrid vessels, which run on the Hurtigruten route. This solution is specifically applicable in Norway where most of the power is made via hydroelectricity, but we see projects coming up in many other countries.
Does legislation help or hinder your work?
Legislation is a part of the problem and the solution. Electric and hybrid propulsion relying on shore power is the best choice if the three following elements are in place:
- Green legislation or incentives (such as the NOx fund in Norway) expressing a strong public commitment to emissions reduction;
- A green source of shore power from renewables (although in terms of CO2 emissions, nuclear could be considered);
- Big investments from the public and shipowners, which go beyond showcase projects.
In Norway we have enjoyed these three elements, or ‘green lights’, for a decade, but I expect that these notions will be seen more across the rest of Europe and North America in the near future.
How will marine propulsion technology have changed by 2030?
The main change I foresee is the introduction of the technology in low-speed applications, and a comeback of sail propulsion combined with electric and hybrid solutions.