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OPINION: battery breakthrough shows industry is still innovating

Thu 24 Aug 2017 by David Foxwell

OPINION: battery breakthrough shows industry is still innovating
Batteries for OSVs have numerous advantages, including reducing fuel consumption and emissions, enhancing redundancy and enhancing performance in DP mode

As hybrid propulsion systems with battery energy storage systems take off in the offshore vessel sector, two classification societies, DNV GL and Bureau Veritas, have issued rules for energy storage.

With the offshore vessel industry emerging from recession it is tempting to think that technical advances have ground to a halt for the time being. They haven’t.

As highlighted recently by OSJ, recent weeks have seen Statoil fix term charters for several offshore vessels that will be upgraded with hybrid battery propulsion as a condition of the contract.

All of the vessels in question will be equipped with hybrid battery operation, with the possibility for shore power connection. This will allow them to reduce fuel consumption while working in dynamic positioning mode. Four vessels were awarded five-year firm contracts with five further one-year options: Sjoborg (Skansi Offshore), Far Searcher (Solstad Farstad), Skandi Flora and Skandi Mongstad (DOF). Three vessels were awarded three-year firm contracts with three further one-year options: Juanita (Ugland); and Havila Charisma and Foresight (Havila Shipping).

Back in 2015 in a special supplement on marine propulsion, we highlighted the fact that batteries in a hybrid arrangement benefits vessels in a number of ways. Hybrid propulsion that combines electric drives, diesel generators and batteries can make offshore vessels more fuel efficient, reducing fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and enhancing the level of redundancy onboard. The overall power-generation requirement on a vessel can be reduced by removing a genset, and other gensets can work at their optimum load, reducing wear and tear on them. Batteries also smooth the load by compensating for peaks and troughs, as well as enhancing safety and reliability by providing back-up in the event of blackouts. 

Now, as the Maritime Battery Forum recently noted, two class societies in the Maritime Battery Forum have rules for energy storage on ships. DNV GL has had energy storage in the rules for some time and now Bureau Veritas (BV) has released theirs. We shouldn’t forget that Lloyd’s Register has also issued guidance on large battery installations.

“With a growing number of hybrid vessels entering service, Bureau Veritas has recently released a new series of notations and rules addressing the requirements of energy storage systems to support ship operators in reducing emissions,” said BV. The new class notation includes power management, power back-up and zero emission standards. It is expected that the notations will encourage wider uptake of energy storage systems.”

As Martial Claudepierre, a business development manager at Bureau Veritas said, “Industry uptake of hybrid and battery technology has been driven by environmental regulation. But owners are also finding performance benefits and, for some operations, significant financial benefits seem likely – particularly as the availability of renewable energy increases.” Only yesterday we reported on a new service operation vessel for Louis Dreyfus Armateurs with a DC distribution grid from ABB that can incorporate batteries. 

BV also highlighted the ability of battery-based energy storage systems to provide peak shaving, power smoothing and power for dynamic positioning operations, features especially applicable to OSVs.

The case for batteries has also been made in a life cycle analysis (LCA) of battery technology completed by the Maritime Battery Forum in co-operation with Grenland Energy and ABB, supported by the Norwegian Business Sector’s NOx-fund. The LCA looked at batteries on a ferry and on an OSV. “The results show a great case for maritime batteries,” said the forum.

You can access the full report here.

You can find more comment on energy storage systems on OSJ at:

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