Speed, Less Emis­sions

Within the next ten years, zero-emis­sion fast fer­ries ca­pa­ble of reach­ing speeds of 40 knots will be op­er­at­ing in Nor­way.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - S NAPSHOTS - CHEYENNE HOLLIS

Ad­vance­ments in propul­sion tech­nol­ogy are help­ing drive de­vel­op­ment for­ward with hy­brid and fully elec­tric ves­sels al­ready in op­er­a­tion. There is also in­ter­est from Asia in im­port­ing the tech­nol­ogy.

When the Green Coastal Pro­gramme went into ef­fect in 2015, the goal was to en­sure fur­ther col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween pri­vate and pub­lic au­thor­i­ties that fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly ves­sels. Ferry op­er­a­tors in Nor­way were among the first to adapt.

Some of that was born out of ne­ces­sity. Ferry op­er­a­tors were com­pet­ing for routes over­seen by fed­eral and mu­nic­i­pal agen­cies. They were re­quir­ing op­er­a­tors sub­mit­ting ten­ders to serve these routes to in­clude low or zero emis­sion ves­sel in­vest­ment as part of their bid. This reg­u­la­tion helped speed up progress which some op­er­a­tors had be­gun work­ing on years ago.

“Fast fer­ries started be­ing optimised 15 years ago in Nor­way. They were made smaller and more ef­fi­cient. In the last five years, there has been a drive to get

hy­brid ves­sels up and run­ning. Now we are see­ing hy­brid and some fully elec­tric ves­sels al­ready op­er­a­tional. The en­ergy stor­age lim­its mean speeds only reach 18-20 knots, but progress is be­ing made,” Mr Tor­leif Stokke, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor at Ser­vo­gear, says.

Ser­vo­gear is com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing optimised propul­sion sys­tems that re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion as it looks to lend its ex­per­tise to a rapidly evolv­ing space.

“Our focus has been to de­sign and op­ti­mise propul­sion for high­speed fer­ries. We have con­tin­u­ously de­vel­oped the tech­nol­ogy so ef­fi­ciency is in­creased and per­for­mance at high speeds im­proves,” Mr Stokke notes. “En­ergy sources are also changing to elec­tric which has meant we needed to de­velop new ways of driv­ing pro­pel­lers. This has opened up other pos­si­bil­i­ties since elec­tri­cal en­ergy sources al­low us to utilise the propul­sion sys­tem even bet­ter.”

Ser­vo­gear and its part­ner, Brun­voll Mar-El, de­vel­oped a plugin hy­brid propul­sion sys­tem that is now be­ing used in the world’s first diesel-elec­tric hy­brid fast-ferry. The ves­sel, Fjor­dled, be­gan op­er­a­tions last year and high­lights what propul­sion tech­nol­ogy is ca­pa­ble of. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Stokke, time and fur­ther re­quests from those agen­cies over­see­ing ferry routes are needed to take the next step.

“We know now that it is pos­si­ble to have a zero-emis­sion fast ferry that can reach speeds of 40 knots. It just needs time for the tech­nol­ogy to be im­ple­mented and tested. We ex­pect the govern­ment to ask for ten­ders for zero emis­sion fast fer­ries in Nor­way,” Mr Stokke ex­plains. “Within ten years, fast fer­ries in the coun­try will be zero emis­sion ves­sels and there could be as many as 70-80 in op­er­a­tion.”

Of course, there is also a busi­ness el­e­ment to the in­no­va­tions be­ing de­vel­oped by Ser­vo­gear. The com­pany wants to cul­ti­vate tech­nol­ogy that re­duces emis­sions and im­proves per­for­mance while also pro­vid­ing a cost sav­ings to op­er­a­tors.

“If you can re­duce fuel con­sump­tion, you can re­duce emis­sions. In some ways, this is build­ing on our motto. We hope we can make a small con­tri­bu­tion to fight­ing cli­mate change. It mo­ti­vates us

to keep go­ing. And there are busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for the com­pany and ship op­er­a­tors as well. We can be suc­cess­ful in both ar­eas,” Mr Stokke points out.

He con­tin­ues, “We have been in­vest­ing in the busi­ness and mov­ing it to­wards so­lu­tions that could sup­port hy­brid and zero emis­sion ves­sels. Customers are ask­ing for these projects, but there are clients who are still work­ing with diesel me­chan­ics and that re­mains our core busi­ness. There is a shift com­ing and nearly half of our propul­sion sys­tems will be on hy­brid or zero emis­sion ves­sels in the next six to eight years. Hope­fully, this builds our rep­u­ta­tion and allows us to con­tinue our busi­ness.”

Look­ing over­seas

While the im­pact of Ser­vo­gear’s propul­sion ad­vance­ments can be seen in Nor­way, the com­pany has also started making in­roads in Asia as well. In ad­di­tion to par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Nor­wayAsia Busi­ness Sum­mit 2019, the firm trav­elled to Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia in or­der to meet lo­cal part­ners and ex­plore fu­ture en­deav­ours in the re­gion.

“In Asia, the tim­ing is good for us. There is in­ter­est in tech­nol­ogy that low­ers fuel con­sump­tion and re­duces en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. Our words are not fall­ing on deaf ears here,” Mr Stokke notes. “It is pos­si­ble for us to grow in the Asian mar­ket. We have several pro­pos­als from com­pa­nies in the re­gion and the re­sponse in gen­eral has urged us to work harder.”

Ser­vo­gear tech­nol­ogy is cur­rently be­ing tested on work­boats in China’s Spe­cial Au­ton­o­mous Re­gions. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Stokke, the ini­tial feedback has been pos­i­tive, and the com­pany hopes it is in a position to ex­pand the part­ner­ship in the fu­ture.

The com­pany has also found suc­cess in pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions for wind­farm sup­port ves­sels. Ser­vo­gear has pro­vided en­ergy-ef­fi­cient propul­sion tech­nol­ogy for more than twenty of Wind­cat Work­boats’ ves­sels, and a to­tal of more than 80 ves­sels in the Euro­pean Win­farm CTV mar­ket. The propul­sion sys­tem of these ves­sels re­quires spe­cial char­ac­ter­is­tics in or­der to keep the them sta­ble against the float­ing turbine. This ex­pe­ri­ence could help the com­pany in China where the offshore wind in­dus­try is grow­ing rapidly.

“China is cur­rently build­ing a lot of offshore wind parks and they will need many ves­sels to sup­port these op­er­a­tions. By opt­ing for hy­brid ves­sels, they could be elim­i­nat­ing a po­ten­tial source of ad­di­tional pol­lu­tion in coastal ar­eas which has been an area of con­cern for the govern­ment,” Mr Stokke points out.

And these are just a cou­ple ar­eas Ser­vo­gear can con­trib­ute to in Asia. A glance across the Huangpu River while Mr Stokke was in Shang­hai re­vealed the true po­ten­tial en­ergy-ef­fi­cient propul­sion could have in the re­gion.

“When I was in Shang­hai, I saw a lot of ves­sels on the wa­ter. You had fer­ries, sight­see­ing ships, cata­ma­rans, coast guard boats and more. You could retro­fit these ves­sels with more ef­fi­cient propul­sion sys­tems as well as hy­brid or zero emis­sion tech­nol­ogy. They just have to make the de­ci­sion to do so,” Mr Stokke says. “We want to con­trib­ute to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of low and zero emis­sion fer­ries and en­sure that it be­comes vi­able. But we also want to help clients im­prove prof­itabil­ity and re­duce op­er­at­ing costs for ves­sels.”

Ser­vo­gear has com­pleted retro­fit projects in the past and these have been found to pay shipown­ers back quickly.

“If a ves­sel is op­er­a­tional let’s say 3,000-6,000 hours a year, re­duc­ing fuel costs can be a huge source of sav­ings. Since fuel is usu­ally the largest cost in a ship’s OPEX budget, re­duc­ing that is im­por­tant. We see in many projects 30 per­cent or more re­duc­tions. And if you are re­duc­ing the amount of fuel be­ing used, ob­vi­ously the amount of emis­sions be­ing pro­duced drops as well,” Mr Stokke states. “This is an area where we need to share our knowl­edge and show what type of sav­ings can be achieved.”

With lo­cal pol­lu­tion in many parts of Asia reg­u­larly reach­ing un­healthy lev­els, find­ing new ways to re­duce emis­sions is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant. Espe­cially in coastal and river ar­eas that are highly de­pen­dent upon fast fer­ries and other forms of wa­ter trans­porta­tion.

“In Nor­way, re­duc­ing pol­lu­tion from fast fer­ries was an im­por­tant topic. They are en­ergy de­mand­ing ves­sels and emis­sions per pas­sen­ger can be sig­nif­i­cantly higher than a bus. But that also doesn’t fac­tor in that the bus needs in­fra­struc­ture, such as roads be­ing built and main­tained, to op­er­ate. All of these cre­ate ad­di­tional emis­sions,” Mr Stokke notes. “The sea doesn’t re­quire all this in­fra­struc­ture. If you can re­duce the emis­sions fast fer­ries pro­duce, they can con­trib­ute quite a bit to solv­ing pol­lu­tion caused by trans­porta­tion in some ar­eas.”

Ul­ti­mately, the speed of the shift from pol­lut­ing ves­sels to low or zero emis­sion ones will be de­ter­mined by the will­ing­ness of coun­tries in Asia to en­act reg­u­la­tions that em­pha­sises the use of this tech­nol­ogy.

“We need reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties and de­ci­sion mak­ers to sup­port this. The tech­nol­ogy be­ing used to sup­port low or zero emis­sion ves­sels will be risky be­fore it ma­tures be­cause of the price. But if reg­u­la­tion sup­ports low and zero emis­sion ves­sels over tra­di­tional ones, the shift hap­pens more quickly,” Mr Stokke pro­claims. “The price of pol­lut­ing needs to be higher in or­der for adap­ta­tion to be in­cen­tivised.”

PHOTO: SER­VO­GEAR

PHOTO: NABS 2019

Above left: Fjor­dled, the world’s first diesel-elec­tric hy­brid fast-ferry, uses a plugin hy­brid propul­sion sys­tem de­vel­oped by Ser­vo­gear and Brun­voll Mar-El. Above: Mr Tor­leif Stokke, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor at Ser­vo­gear, seen at NABS 2019. The com­pany has re­ceived pos­i­tive feedback from clients in Asia

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