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Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Partners plan to develop battery-powered gas carriers

Fri 05 Apr 2019 by Gavin Lipsith

Partners plan to develop battery-powered gas carriers
Teekay's E-Shuttle tankers under construction at SHI inspired the yard group's cooperation with Wärtsilä

A shipyard and technology supplier aim to bring battery power to the gas carrier segment for the first time.

Wärtsilä and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) have signed an agreement to establish more efficient solutions for LNG carriers and shuttle tankers. The project will aim to optimise the capital and operational costs of these vessel types while expanding the use of efficient, hybrid solutions.

Batteries form part of the hybrid arrangement for a series of six shuttle tankers being built by SHI for Teekay Offshore. The package includes LNG-burning engines that are also capable of using volatile organic compounds as well as a battery system.

Wärtsilä sales director, merchant segment Stein Thorsager said that the Teekay project had encouraged SHI’s interest in the hybrid propulsion. “They see the advantage of using batteries as part of the energy demand on board and strongly believe this will be of value for other tankers and gas carriers,” he said.

SHI is also interested in entering the marine market with its own batteries. It will be able to use Wärtsilä’s hybrid centre in Trieste – a facility that enables the full-scale testing of hybrid propulsion arrangements – to explore the best battery properties and specifications for marine use.

Wärtsilä said that the agreement provides a “greater level of equality” than under a conventional shipyard-supplier relationship. It will also provide SHI with a knowledge of hybrid propulsion and power arrangements that it can apply when adapting ship designs and construction practices to accommodate these systems.

The partners cited the strong LNG carrier newbuilding market as another driver for the deal, noting “potentially dozens of new vessels to be ordered for transporting increasing volumes of LNG from new and extended export terminals in Africa, Australia, Middle East and the US”.

Gas carrier propulsion is usually provided by two-stroke engines, with medium-speed engines catering for on-board power demand including reliquefaction and cargo loading. Batteries could replace an auxiliary engine and be used to tackle peaks in energy demand, allowing the remaining auxiliaries to be operated at a more optimal load. This would reduce fuel consumption as well as cutting maintenance on the remaining engines.

Mr Thorsager noted that some LNG carriers – notably those being used for the Yamal LNG project in the Russian Arctic – already deployed electric propulsion. These arrangements make it easy to consider adding batteries to the set-up he said.

“We believe in electric propulsion for some of the smaller LNG carriers,” he said. “In the future you could see a row of generators on one deck with an electric propulsion motor down in the hull connected to the propeller shaft. We already see interest in such concepts from shipowners and charterers who are looking at all options to reduce their emissions to meet IMO targets.”

The partnership could also extend to retrofit hybrid solutions, said Mr Thorsager. Wärtsilä has already developed containerised retrofit solutions comprising batteries, switchboards and controls, mainly deployed on offshore vessels. Solutions could be developed for larger vessels.

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