Propulsion & Energy Storage Webinar

Monday 24th of June, the webinar “Sailing into the Future – Propulsion & Energy Storage” brought together maritime industry experts to discuss the latest advancements and challenges in propulsion and energy storage for yachts. 

This webinar, part of a 5-episode series, aims to bring together experts and representatives from leading companies in various aspects of yacht construction, to embrace this collaborative platform where pioneering ideas are shared. The goal is to provide insights to help yacht builders through innovation, eco-friendly solutions and technologies that not only elevate performance but also significantly reduce environmental impact.

Moderated by Laurent Perignon, this discussion gathered some leaders of innovation in the yachting industry, including Volvo Penta Rolls-Royce (MTU), and Siemens Energy.

COMPANIES PRESENTATIONS

Volvo Penta‘s new IPS Professional Platform, which is part of their strategy to lead in sustainable power solutions for marine propulsion. This innovative system aims to enhance efficiency and flexibility in yacht propulsion, accommodating various power sources such as combustion engines, hybrid systems, and fully electric engines. The IPS platform offers significant improvements, including a speed range of 12 to 40 knots, a gear ratio of 2.91, a 30% expansion in range, a 40% increase in acceleration, and a 50% reduction in vibration and noise.

The system is designed to operate efficiently with one engine up to 80% load, activating the second engine only when necessary, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Real-world testing on a North Sea ferry demonstrated improved acceleration from 0 to 30 knots in 28 seconds, compared to 50 seconds before the upgrade. Additionally, tests on a vessel operating in the Amalfi Coast showed a reduction of 71 cubic meters in fuel consumption and a decrease of 190 tons of CO2 emissions over 2,000 operational hours. These results underscore the potential of the IPS platform to significantly enhance marine propulsion efficiency and sustainability.

 

Rolls Royce outlined their approach to decarbonization in the maritime sector, focusing on their strategy for sustainable yachting. Dr. Daniel Chatterjee emphasizes the critical need for carbon-neutral fuels to achieve net-zero yachting and highlights the challenges of fuel availability and energy density. Currently, bio-based fuels like HVO are becoming more available, but there is a significant gap in meeting the energy demands across all sectors.

Methanol requires double the tank volume compared to diesel, ammonia needs three times the volume, and hydrogen’s low energy density makes it impractical for ship propulsion. Rolls Royce sees a trend towards hybrid systems that combine diesel and electric propulsion, which can enhance efficiency and reduce emissions.

Looking forward to 2030, the company envisions using synthetic diesel (HVO) and methanol as primary fuels for sustainable yachting. Rolls Royce is developing methanol engines and exploring the use of hydrogen for onshore power generation and potentially as a synthetic fuel for maritime use. The integration of batteries with traditional propulsion systems is also a key strategy to achieve more efficient and locally emission-free operations.

 

Siemens Energy showcased their advancements in yacht propulsion systems, emphasizing the launch of the first metal yacht by Sanlorenzo as a significant milestone. This yacht represents a major step towards electrification and sustainability in the maritime industry. Siemens Energy, which emerged from Siemens SPA, operates in over 90 countries with more than 92,000 employees, focusing on energy solutions.

The company is developing hybrid propulsion systems, including serial and parallel hybrids, which integrate variable speed gensets, batteries, shore connections, and shaft generators to save up to 20% in CO2 emissions. Siemens Energy is also enhancing onboard energy management using advanced software and artificial intelligence to optimize efficiency.

A key focus is the integration of methanol fuel cells to address space and performance challenges in the yachting market. Siemens Energy aims to develop methanol fuel cells that not only power auxiliary loads but also handle propulsion needs.


ALTERNATIVE FUELS

It has been emphasized that while exploring various fuel alternatives, including hydrogen engines and other fuels, there is a focus on balancing research efforts with practical market viability. Hydrogen is seen as suitable for stationary applications due to storage challenges, especially for larger yachts. In the near term, HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) is preferred because it is readily available and compatible with existing engines. Methanol is identified as a promising future fuel due to its cost benefits and increasing adoption in the broader maritime industry, such as container ships. This adoption is expected to enhance methanol’s availability, making it a priority area for further development and integration into yachting.

Following the discussing it was explained that it is important to consider specific use cases when selecting propulsion solutions. For example, full electric solutions are already viable for certain applications, such as ferries in Sweden, where predictable routes allow for consistent battery recharging. However, this approach is less practical for leisure yachting due to varying usage patterns and lack of infrastructure.


BATTERIES

Although there is a significant push towards battery technology, batteries are not yet capable of serving as the primary power source for large vessels. Instead, a hybrid approach combining diesel or hybrid electric drives with batteries is viewed as the most practical solution. This allows for flexibility and future integration of more powerful batteries as technology evolves.


REGULATIONS

The discussion also underscored the significant influence of international, regional, and national regulations on the development pace of these solutions. It was specifically pointing out challenges with ISO standards, noting the slow progress in defining standards for hydrogen handling, bunkering, and distribution, which are crucial for widespread adoption.

Moreover, the panelists discussed the broader implications of industry regulations such as SOLAS and MARPOL, emphasizing their roles in ensuring safety and managing pollution from fuel storage and consumption. The discussion highlighted the importance of compliance with regulatory frameworks like STCW and ISM codes, which govern training and operational practices to enhance safety at sea.

In terms of industry impact, it highlighted the shipping sector’s commitment to decarbonization and the global implications of its efforts. There is concerns over fuel availability, citing examples such as Maersk’s adoption of methanol for container carriers and its potential influence on market dynamics.

Lastly, it was expressed cautious optimism towards biofuels for their environmental benefits and straightforward integration into existing engines. However, the need for rigorous life cycle cost analysis and consideration of factors like indirect land use in biofuel production to ensure sustainable and effective implementation across the maritime industry.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The speaker discussed the current technological landscape, emphasizing the known capabilities and potential improvements for using methanol and hydrogen in various applications, including hotel loads and propulsion. They acknowledged a gap between current technical feasibility and anticipated advancements, noting that the rapid pace of technological development could open new opportunities.

A significant takeaway from the session was the influence of larger markets and industries, particularly the merchant marine, on driving progress that could benefit the yachting industry. The example of Maersk’s investment in methanol was highlighted as a driver that could potentially lead to broader adoption and availability of methanol. This underscores the importance of larger players in the market to initiate changes that smaller sectors, like yachting, can later adopt and benefit from.

However, the speaker also pointed out the challenges in building infrastructure from scratch. Drawing a parallel with LNG, they noted that it took 10 years to build a proper LNG infrastructure for bunkering just 1% of the global fleet. This indicates that developing a new storage and distribution network for alternative fuels will be a long and complex process, requiring flexibility, special handling, and trained personnel. Additionally, regional differences in regulations could complicate the distribution and implementation of new fuels.

Despite these challenges, the speaker stressed the importance of continuing to improve the efficiency of existing solutions while awaiting broader regulatory and infrastructure developments. They mentioned that although the yachting industry conducts significant R&D and prototyping, a definitive solution or “silver bullet” is not expected soon. Therefore, improving current technologies’ efficiency remains a priority in the interim.


NEXT EPISODE

Sailing into the Futur: On Board Comfort

17th October – 2pm CET

Join us the 22 & 23 September 2024 for the 4th Edition of the Monaco Smart & Sustainable Marina Rendezvous

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