Electric boat and ship markets gaining momentum, says IDTechEx

In its new report “Electric Boats & Ships 2024-2044,” technology company IDTechEx has provided granular 20-year forecasts in unit sales, battery demand and battery market value for the electric ferry, electric cargo/container, electric Ro-Ro, electric cruise, electric OSV, electric tugboat and electric recreational boats by power class.

Courtesy of IDTechEx

It also shared technology analysis and price information on marine Li-ion battery systems ($/kWh 2020 – 2044) and electric propulsion systems.

The company pointed out that across the land-based electric vehicle sectors, there is mostly a transition to battery-electric propulsion systems over the next two decades, but the case is not so simple for the marine one.

Due to the scale of the power, energy and distance requirements for merchant vessels, reducing maritime emissions will require solutions ranging from giant Li-ion battery systems to green hydrogen fuel cells and other alternative fuels, IDTech said.

The report found that cumulative battery deliveries since 2013 are set to surpass the milestone of 1 GWh in 2023, but while growth has been strong in inland and coastal marine sectors, uptake in larger deep-sea vessels is less rapid.

However, IDTechEx noted that is gaining momentum as unprecedented global emissions regulations upcoming from the IMO and EU, which initially targeted NOx, SOx & PM, now focus on carbon & GHG emissions.

To note, the new IMO policy includes an Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII). EEXI ensures a ship is taking technical steps, in terms of how it is equipped and retrofitted, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and CII is a measure of the carbon emissions per amount of cargo carried per mile and targets reducing emissions operationally. The measures are expected to become mandatory from 2023, with the first ship ratings given in 2024.

The maritime sector is, therefore, under increasing pressure to decarbonize and meet broader climate goals, IDTechEx said, adding that the solutions are potentially emerging into ‘multiple silver bullets’, each of which can target a specific subsector. For example, batteries for pure electric ferries and tugboats, and green fuels (often paired with batteries) in hybrid sea-going vessels.

The company further said that pure battery-electric ships are often the best solution where operationally possible, in terms of reducing emissions and, typically, lifetime ROI costs.

It concluded: “By volume, electric recreational & leisure boating is the largest market, with tens of thousands of electric propulsion systems sold yearly… In contrast, several hundred hybrid deep-sea vessels are in-service today. Yet, this sector has the largest market value and demand for maritime batteries in the future due to the vessel sizes and high energy requirements involved, leading to giant battery systems per vessel.”

“Despite high initial CAPEX and energy density limitations, what is clear is that marine battery systems will continue to add value to both the smallest recreational boats and the largest sea-going ships, either by facilitating the leap to pure zero emissions operation or by improving the fuel economy of engines, and even fuel cells, driving a hybrid market.”


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