Monday, May 11, 2020

European Study Looks at Future of Battery Technology in the Maritime Sector

Report Two Years in the Making Identifies Likely Outcomes
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – In 2018, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) commissioned DNV GL to perform a study on the use of electrical storage systems in shipping, with the objective of providing an overview of technology, research, feasibility, regulations and safety of battery systems in maritime applications.

The sheer speed of development of such technology prescribes that such a study looks at the likely direction of development and now the conclusions suggest, unsurprisingly, that vessels will be able to sail longer distances in all-electric mode when battery technologies have matured. The report drills down on all major points, from current and future battery technologies and projects, through the range of potential applications and sets out a possible framework for development and safety as systems are adopted.

The report, published last week and titled ‘Electrical Energy Storage for Ships’ reviews both available battery products and those which are still in development and concludes, again unsurprisingly, that a thriving market situation is developing. It points out that, besides the obvious Eldorado of a fully electrically powered vessel, there are gains to be made even in less spectacular scenarios.

The review says that the most interesting of the future technologies is considered to be solid state, preferably combined with metal air. It states that this combination improves specific energy, energy density and safety features and concludes that when these technologies have matured, vessels will be able to sail longer distances all electric, while the risk for thermal runaway is also reduced.

The authors admit however that conductivity and lifetime issues need to be solved before the technology can be fully utilised and the estimates of what use such an extension of electrical power will prove disintegrate somewhat as larger vessels come into the equation, with much use of the term ‘highly variable’ appearing in the projections for these bigger ships.

The report however is well worth a full review by any interested parties as a comprehensive study of what is currently out there as well as a glimpse into the future hopes for battery technology.

Photo: Electrically powered ferry courtesy Tersan Shipyard, Turkey.