Electrification and Energy Storage: Future Fossil Fuel Alternatives

Reducing fossil fuel consumption and cutting down on marine pollution are points of interest for the maritime industry as a whole. With the implementation of the updated shipping regulations known as IMO 2020, shipping companies are looking for ways to oblige to new rules through alternative methods of energy.

Electric propulsion and battery storage systems are set to play a major role in reaching IMO’s global goal of reducing annual emissions in shipping in half by 2050. From suppliers to shippers, the industry is moving to commercialize technology and help reach the goals set by IMO. While internal combustion engines will still remain the standard for some time, electric and battery technologies are quickly being developed for widespread use in maritime applications.

Clearer Waters Ahead

Fuel can represent more than half of a ship’s total operating costs. As emissions regulations force the use of lower-emitting fuels and put more pressure on this overall cost, low-emission technology will see more of an emphasis from shipping companies. Across all shipping sectors, the main pushes for electric propulsion and battery storage are improving performance, providing power, and reducing emissions.

This can also help shipping companies avoid major penalties related to IMO 2020 regulations. If a ship emits more pollution than is permitted under the updated rules, the company responsible for the ship will be responsible for all fines and legal matters. The impact of these regulations can be cut significantly by using updated electrification options while also obtaining marine pollution insurance, which can help companies face fines with more support and resources.

For now, the major use of energy storage systems is to help improve overall performance of on-board electrical systems. Battery storage on ships can provide redundant power and prevent the use of on-board auxiliary generators.

Fuel Cells

When ships operate over long distances, major challenges that prevent the use of battery electric propulsion are capacity to recharge and time. The amount of energy that can be stored onboard batteries is significantly limited. This ends up creating an opportunity for the use of fuel cell technology along with battery storage.

For now, there are pilot projects in motion that are testing fuel cells in ships. They are looking for the best use of renewable hydrogen and how it can help to reduce emissions along the hydrogen pathway. The most promising use of fuel cells include large capacity and low speed vessels with short distance and high-power applications for electric battery storage.

About WQIS

At Water Quality Insurance Syndicate (WQIS), we provide water pollution liability insurance from the smallest to the largest fleets for vessel operators worldwide, providing coverage for more than thirty thousand (30,000) vessels, pollution guaranties for over three thousand five hundred (3,500) vessels, and have cleaned up over five thousand (5,000) spills in our history. WQIS offers insurance on behalf of twelve (12) subscribing insurance companies in the Marine Insurance Market (see Subscribers for details).