Electric transportation news is usually dominated by electric vehicles. But there is another growing sector in this space that deserves more attention. Electric Ships.
The carbon footprint left by the international shipping industry has been well-known in recent years. According to a research by the International Maritime Organization, the maritime sector emits 940 million tons of CO2 each year, accounting for 2.5 percent to 3% of global glasshouse gas emissions.
To discover a replacement for fossil fuels, the industry has been developing a variety of alternatives, including electric ships powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are typically the largest individual batteries in the electric car industry.
Here are some of the largest-battery-capacity electric ship projects.
The long-awaited Yara Birkeland debuted in Norway in November 2021. It will reduce the need for around 40,000 truck trips every year, which are currently powered by dirty diesel. The world's first fully electric autonomous cargo vessel, with zero emissions and, soon, zero personnel, is a small but hopeful step towards decreasing the maritime industry's carbon footprint.
The much-anticipated Yara Birkeland will eliminate the need for around 40,000 polluting diesel truck journeys per year by shipping up to 120 containers of fertilizer from a plant in the southeastern town of Porsgrunn to the Brevik port a dozen kilometers (about eight miles) away.
The 80-metre, 3,200-deadweight-tonne ship will undergo two years of operating trials in the coming months, during which it will be fine-tuned to learn to maneuver on its own. Once the vessel can make its 7.5-nautical-mile excursions on its own with the help of sensors, the wheelhouse might be obsolete in 3-5 years.
The usual machine room on board the Yara Birkeland has been replaced by eight battery compartments, giving the vessel a capacity of 6.8 MWh, all of which is sourced from renewable hydroelectricity. That's the same as 100 Tesla vehicles. The Yara Birkeland's contribution to global climate efforts will be a decrease 678 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Stena Line, which operates the Stena Jutlandica ferry between Gothenburg, Sweden, and Frederikshavn, Denmark, is intending to install a 1,000kWh battery system. The project started in 2018 and is divided into three phases, the first of which is the installation of batteries.
The installation of a 20,000kWh battery park in phase two will provide 10 miles of pure electric range, while phase three will focus on increasing battery capacity to 50,000kWh. The ferry will be able to sail the distance between the two cities due to the amount of electricity available.
The Stena Jutlandica
Corvus Energy, a developer of energy storage systems, has delivered a 10,000kWh lithium-ion battery system to German cruise line AIDA Cruises, the largest pack ever deployed to a ship. In 2020, the company's AIDAperla cruise ship, which can transport over 4,000 guests and cruise members, received the battery.
“It is not only the largest battery pack ever ordered; it is also the first regular cruise vessel with [a] battery on board. The cruise industry is seeing the potential in energy storage as the benefits are numerous—not only for emission reductions but also for comfort and safety reasons.” said Corvus Energy CEO Geir Bjørkeli.
The Ellen 100% electric ferry project, which took five years to create, concluded its ten-month sea testing in June 2020. The ferry, which will run in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea, is part of the E-Ferry project, which is sponsored in part by Horizon 2020, the EU's largest research and innovation initiative.
The EU provided €16 million of the project's total cost of €21.3 million. Ellen will offset 2,000 tons of CO2, 41.5 tons of NOx, and 1.35 tons of SO2 with a 4,300kWh battery system and a 4MW charging rate.
Asahi Tanker, a Japanese marine transportation company, is developing two electric propulsion tankers that will serve as fuel supply vessels in Tokyo Bay. The tanker will be based on the e5 model, which was developed by e5 Lab, a joint venture between Asahi Tanker and Mitsubishi, among other companies.
Project e5 was conceived as a response to the issues that the Japanese shipping sector was facing, such as reducing glasshouse gas emissions and addressing labor shortages. e5 stands for electricity, environment, evolution, economics, and efficiency, which are all tenets of the project.
Guangzhou Shipyard, a Chinese business, launched the world's first electric container ship in 2017 and placed it into service a year later. The 70m-long and 14m-wide tanker has a battery system made up of more than 1,000 lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors, giving the vessel the autonomy to travel up to 80km.
The vessel would travel through the Pearl River in the southern province of Guangdong, transporting 2,314 tons of coal to a power plant.