The efficiency benefits of electrification

Ecocat is Torqeedo’s flagship solar and electrification project Photo: Torqeedo Ecocat is Torqeedo’s flagship solar and electrification project Photo: Torqeedo
Industry Database

MJ caught up with Dr Christoph Balinn from Torqeedo at Seawork to talk about the benefits of electrification for commercial vessel owners and operators.

The drive towards using electric to achieve more sustainable transportation is being driven forward in most sectors, especially automotive, largely due to its ability to help boost operational efficiency and reduce emissions.

“Some segments are well suited to for electrification and the commercial marine sector is one of them, particularly well suited are ferries, water taxis, barges and pilot vessels, all of which have a fairly short range,” said Dr Balinn.

Long-term savings

Dr Balinn told MJ that operators can achieve between 70 and 80% fuel cost savings in the long-run, plus benefit from reduced maintenance and servicing costs that typical combustion engines need on a regular basis.

Of course, there are intangible benefits as well, such as improving the health of crew and the enjoyment of passengers, by reducing their exposure to noise, exhaust, vibration and fumes.

By far, the project that the company is most proud of is the Torqeedo powered Ecocat solar and electric ferry which will service the Balearic Islands in Spain.

It’s equipped with Torqeedo’s Deep Blue System which is a plug and play electric system which uses the same battery pack that powers a BWM i3 car.

Importantly by equipping an electric ferry with solar panels it takes away the issue of slow charging and charging infrastructure, problems which still need to be overcome in the automotive sector.

The ferry, which has a range of 40 hours, is equipped with a 40kW high voltage charger which tops up the power between charges.

Going forward

Torqeedo said that the next step for the company is to up the high voltage charger to 130Kw which will allow it to power a vessel twice the size.

The company is currently working on ferry projects in Alicante, Dubai and Bangkok.

Dr Balinn said that the main challenge to overcome with regards to a wider uptake in the commercial sector is the initial outlay of cost for a newbuild vessel or conversion.

But he said that with the fuel and maintenance savings, payback could be achieved in three to four years for most operators.

As an added assurance, Torqeedo offers a nine-year battery warranty guaranteeing that the batteries will retain at least 80%  of their original capacity, even if they’re being used every day.

The Deep Blue System can also be remotely monitored shore-side by the company’s central support team to avoid any downtime.

Dr Ballin predicts the adoption of electric propulsion will continue to accelerate and the growth curve will steepen over the next few years across the sector.

By Anne-Marie Causer

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