Electric ships – a new target for Li-ion battery producers

Stena Line is working towards installing a 1000kWh battery system on the ‘Stena Jutlandica,’ pictured here. (Image courtesy of Stena Line).

A report published by UK-based IDTechEx explores the potential of electric ships for lithium-ion battery producers.

In the document, the market analyst states that these new vessels have some of the largest individual batteries of any electric vehicle sector. In detail, while the typical battery capacity of a pure electric car in the US is 67kWh and that of a long-haul truck is expected to be somewhere around 600 – 1000kWh, the already operational Ellen ferry has a battery capacity of 4300kWh.

“‘Ellen’ is a landmark pure-electric ferry project operating in the Danish part of the Baltic sea. Taking five years to build, it successfully completed its 10-month stretch of sea trials in June 2020,” the report states. “The project was partially funded by the EU horizon 2020 project, costing a total of 21.3 million euros of which the EU supplied 16 million euros.” 

Electric ships have some of the largest individual batteries of any electric vehicle sector

Besides the 4300kWh-Leclanché battery, the ship has a record-breaking 4MW charging rate, allowing for nearly 1C charging. 

Following Ellen’s example, ferry operator Stena Line is working towards installing a 1000kWh battery system on the ‘Stena Jutlandica,’ which operates between Gothenburg, Sweden and Frederikshavn, Denmark. 

Once this first step is taken, Stena plans to connect a 20,000kWh battery pack to the propellers allowing for a 10-mile pure electric range. Later on, the battery capacity will be expanded to 50,000kWh, enabling roughly 50 miles of pure-electric range or approximately the distance between Gothenburg and Frederikshavn.

In China, the first pure electric container ship in the world was launched in November 2017 to transport coal. 

“According to China News, the powertrain is equipped with a mixture of supercapacitors and lithium-ion batteries for a total energy capacity of 2400kWh. The powertrain reportedly enables a range of 50 miles on a single charge,” IDTechEx’s review reads. “The vessel currently travels inland down the Pearl River in Guangdong Province, where new emission control areas came into force in January 2019.”

Also in Asia, Asahi Tanker is developing the e5 project for Japan. This would be the first sea-going pure electric and autonomous tanker.

It is expected that the 60-metre long ship, whose five ‘es’ stand for electrification, environment, evolution, economy and efficiency, hits the water by 2022 with a 4000kWh battery enabling an 80-mile range.

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