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First fully electric tug - contract signed

New Zealand's Ports of Auckland has signed a contract with Damen Shipyards Group for the first fully electric ship-handling tug in the world with 70 tonnes bollard pull.

Damen’s RSD Tug 2513 is fuel-efficient and IMO Tier III ready so it made sense to Ports of Auckland to go to Damen to take the next step in sustainable performance.

Ports of Auckland and New Zealand, as a nation, are committed to sustainability. Currently around 40% of primary energy generated in the country comes from renewable sources, including 80% of electricity, which comes primarily from hydropower and geothermal power. “We have set ourselves the goal of being zero emission by 2040,” says Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland. “To meet this goal, we needed to find a zero-emission option for our tugs.”

“When we first looked into buying an electric tug in 2016, there was nothing on the market,” says Allan D’Souza, Ports of Auckland’s General Manager for Marine, Engineering and General Wharf Operations. “We are very happy with our existing Damen ASD Tug 2411 and we knew Damen were building hybrid tugs, so Damen was a logical choice for a partner when we wanted to look at the possibility of developing a fully electric model. Damen’s willingness to think differently and invest in the necessary research and development has been critical to the success of this project.”

Damen’s approach to development and construction extends well beyond the basics with Damen involved in the entire process, from start to finish. Damen design and proposal engineer Tugs, Marc Baken explains “We looked into the request and we saw that it was technically possible".  Damen took data from the operational performance of Ports of Auckland’s existing ASD Tug 2411 and was able to work out what the battery requirements would be for the RSD-E Tug 2513.

“The next step was to consider the feasibility of full electrical operation from a business perspective.This involves working to our philosophy of modularization and standardisation,” says Marc. “Taking proven components already in the market place and applying them to the vessel, for reliable efficiency”.  This includes, for example, the charging station, which is based on technology that has already demonstrated it credentials in the automotive industry; the 1.5MW charger takes just two hours to fully charge RSD-E Tug 2513.

The tug has high levels of redundancy in its power systems but to ensure absolute safety – of utmost importance in shipping – the tug also has two 1000kW generator sets; providing enough power for the tug to operate at 40 tonnes bollard pull in the event of an electrical system failure or if there is an imperative to operate beyond its battery capacity. However, the generators will not be used as the vessel and its battery system has been designed to meet the port’s normal operational needs.

Damen sales manager Asia Pacific, Sjoerd de Bruin said, “The RSD-E Tug 2513 completes the cycle of sustainability, being not only clean on emissions, but also in its source of power. This is great news for the region and for other ports around the world with green ambitions. Ports of Auckland have taken a bold step in pioneering the use of fully electric harbour tugs and it is an honour to work with them on this project. This aligns neatly with our mission of reforming the maritime industry. We are not only building a tug, we are using disruptive technology to help serve the energy transition. We aim to use the lessons learned on this project – as well as those on others we are involved with, such as the development of fully electric ferries and waterbuses – to increase the sustainability of the entire portfolio of products and services that Damen provides.”

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