EU leading nations support marine electrification as climate action tool

New polling commissioned by climate action solution provider Shift Clean Energy has shown “a remarkably high level of support” for marine electrification as a way to fight climate change. 

Illustration; Photo by: Offshore Energy

As disclosed, the pool was launched during COP26 and the three-day Zero Emissions Ship Technology Association (ZESTAs) SHIP ZERO workshop. UK, Belgium and France were the most supportive of governments encouraging batteries to fight climate change, averaging 68 per cent, with the highest in the UK at 74 per cent, according to the findings.

“With COP26 happening in the UK this week, we were encouraged to see that the UK stood out as highly supportive of battery storage as a tool against climate change; three quarters of those polled wanted to see more marine batteries used, but with improved regulations (87 per cent) and transparency of reporting of issues (90 per cent),” said Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

Electrification and hybridization of ships have been picking up in the industry for a while now, being the predominant choice for short-sea shipping.

There are several solutions on the market to choose from such as shore power connection, battery hybrid solutions, shaft generators, or alternative electric propulsion concepts.

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Energy storage systems (ESS) are an increasingly popular way to decrease greenhouse gases (GHGs), both in the marine sector and beyond as companies move to lower or zero emissions operations through electrification versus using diesel or other fuels.

Current applications include fully electric or hybrid ferries, offshore wind farm servicing vessels, yachts and harbour servicing vessels, and increasingly, on land electrification of ports, terminals and inland waterway shipping. 

The polling also revealed the nations want stronger safety regulations that would prevent all battery fires. The current standards for battery approval state that individual battery cells can catch fire and still be approved, as long as that fire can’t spread from one cell to another. Given the impact any fires could have on ferries or other vessels, there are risks to this regulatory framework.

“Electrification in the marine and shipping industries has to happen if we want to meet International Maritime Organization, European Union and other GHG reduction goals,” said Brent Perry, CEO, Shift Clean Energy, and ZESTAs Chair. “People want to see it happen, but do want to ensure regulators put strong rules in place to ensure mariner and public safety.”

Nevertheless, with the IMO setting a clear path on the EEXI and CII requirements in the short term, electrification of ships could become a retrofitting option for owners who won’t slow down their ships in order to become compliant with the IMO GHG reduction target of 40% cut in 2030.