The other electric vehicle revolution: electrification of marine vessels 

Mar. 14 2023 - 3 min

Recent advances in battery technology are turbocharging electrification in the maritime industry, as evidenced by encouraging projects with Bureau Veritas clients in the Nordic region.

Certifying next-generation e-ferries

Danish ferry operator Molslinjen will be deploying two new large electric ferries (e-ferries), currently under construction in Türkiye. The e-ferries can carry up to 600 passengers and 118 vehicles and are intended for the relatively long, exposed Alslinjen (Fynshav-Bøjden) and Samsølinjen (Kalundborg-Ballen) routes. They come equipped with innovative digital technology including autonomous docking and transit systems – a package that pushes battery-powered vessels beyond what’s been previously accomplished.

As pioneers in terms of safety and performance, Bureau Veritas is classing the e-ferries to our BATTERY SYSTEM notation. Working with builders and operators throughout Scandinavia, BV experts provide services that verify their safe installation, operation and high-performance battery capabilities.

The advantages of maritime electrification

The possibilities and benefits of electrification have multiplied with advances in battery technology. New battery systems can take ships further, reduce emissions, and lower maintenance burdens by optimizing how engines and generators run. The instantaneous energy of electric-powered vessels also boosts ship performance.

Safety can be enhanced as well, due to the additional redundancy provided by battery (hybrid) power systems – effectively providing power backup. Other benefits include lower machinery maintenance thanks to optimized running of engines and generators, and lower (or even zero) noise and vibrations.

Shipbuilders and operators throughout the Nordic region are thus advancing on electrification projects across the full spectrum of vessels.

The other electric vehicle revolution: electrification of marine vessels 

Electrifying the North, the Bureau Veritas way

Bureau Veritas has been involved in several projects in Scandinavia, electrifying both new and existing vessels. In addition to the Molslinjen project, we are classing the hybrid 15,000 deadweight ton dual fuel/methanol-prepared chemical tanker newbuilds for Swedish ship owner Terntank, which use batteries and shore-power to minimize emissions.

We are also participating in multiple battery system projects on existing and advanced newbuilding crew transfer vessels operated by Northern Offshore Services, and a cable layer conversion by Norway's Seaworks. The main challenge of retrofits is to install and integrate the battery systems, and upgrade the on-board power distribution system for safe and efficient operation. While most eletrification projects aim to hybridize vessels, the further decarbonization of the existing fleet could be achieved through extending battery capacity or converting to use alternative fuels.

With our deep understanding of battery technology and flag state requirements, and cooperating with local maritime authorities, we are a partner of trust in the Nordic region for all sorts of hybrid-electric, low-emission vessels. These include an icebreaking hybrid-electric dual-fuel (LNG) expedition cruise ship, e-ferries, the world’s first hybrid-electric hopper dredgers, and hybrid-electric high speed crew transfer vessels. Our engineers and surveyors have the distinctive expertise and competency to help make electrification projects – whether new builds or retrofits – successful.

What lies ahead?

As the world moves towards low- and zero-carbon energy production, electric energy storage systems will only grow in importance. Advances like solid-state batteries could radically expand maritime applications in the future. And with higher power density, the scope of battery technology application will widen. The demand for revolutionary batteries like these could be vast, but battery manufacturers and ship owners are already setting up partnerships and production to address growing needs. As a member of the Maritime Battery Forum, we are keeping a close eye on all battery technology developments , ready to support our clients.