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Hybrid - challenges and opportunities

The theme for the Commercial Marine Hybrid & Electric Propulsion Conference held virtually at SeaworkConnect was 'Overcoming the barriers to hybrid and electric developments'. The session looked at the challenges for the industry and the opportunities emerging with new technology and innovation.

What does hybrid mean to different people? For some it was solely diesel and electric on a selective basis, for others it was a combination of electric and alternative fuels/propulsion in simultaneous use.

Factors preventing ideas being developed into concepts and then into fully fledged commercial offerings were considered. Industry being unresponsive or even downright resistant to new tech, too high a risk, changing regulations and onerous classification rules were all cited as barriers.

Real life examples gave some illuminating and educational figures that showed a positive picture of what could be achieved.

Ryan Reilly of MJR Power & Automation showed that the company’s interchangeable ePods were an answer to lengthy battery replacement methods with the equivalent of a less than 5 minute pit-stop to change batteries. He also contrasted supply and installation costs of conventional onboard propulsion solutions - $12m USD, with that of a cartridge battery system - $2.5m USD. The turbine-located charging point for WFSVs and CTVs generated much interest and comment.

Christophe Rident – Lead Naval Architect (Commercial vessels and high-speed ferries) BMT, stressed the importance of optimisation at the design level; understanding of vessel operators expectations being absolutely crucial. Using the company’s recent design for a patrol boat as an example, the two-hour recharge requirement had a direct bearing on the size of generator used whereas a similar vessel used in another role with a three-hour requirement would have used a smaller generator taking up 40% less space, reducing weight, and needing to produce 40% less power.

Supported by SMI with a welcome from Tom Chant, CEO, and moderated by Alan Cartwright of Blabey Engineering, 'Overcoming the barriers to hybrid and electric developments' is now available in the on-demand section of the What's On programme at for the next fourteen days.

Exhibitors: MJR Power & Automation, BMT

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