The maritime sector is under increasing pressure to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) setting a target of 50% lower annual emissions by 2050 compared to 2008. One potential solution is the electrification of ships, which has gained momentum in recent years. The SEABAT project, funded by the European Commission, aims to develop a fully-electric maritime hybrid concept that incorporates modular high-energy batteries, high-power batteries, novel converter concepts, and production technology solutions derived from the automotive sector.
Electrification is seen as a promising solution for reducing emissions in the maritime sector, but it is not without challenges. The main issue lies in the type of battery systems used in waterborne transport. Batteries are typically oversized to ensure a specified capacity over their ten-year lifetime, leading to high costs that hinder the widespread adoption of electrified ships. The SEABAT project seeks to address this challenge by developing a hybrid concept that combines high-energy and high-power batteries to optimize their performance. By distributing the load between the two storage devices based on the energy storage system’s operating strategy, oversizing can be reduced, and the system lifetime can be extended.
The advantages of hybridization in maritime electrification are significant. It can result in up to 20% less weight, up to 24% volume reduction potential, and up to 24% cost-saving potential for investments. Furthermore, studies on city buses have shown that hybridization can increase the lifetime of the battery system by 16%. To achieve these benefits, the SEABAT project has studied and analyzed four hybrid solutions, each with its own advantages and characteristics.
Among the four hybrid topologies studied, the second topology was selected as the best option due to its significant advantages in cost, volume, weight, and energy losses compared to the other topologies. Additionally, recent innovations in battery technology, such as nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), lithium iron phosphate (LFP), and lithium titanate (LTO), have expanded the possibilities for battery systems in the waterborne transport sector.
The development of innovative battery system technologies, like the ones being explored in the SEABAT project, along with the increasing use of different types of batteries, have facilitated the electrification of the maritime sector. This has resulted in a rise in the construction of pure electric vessels, which can be powered entirely by onboard battery systems. Furthermore, “plug-in hybrid” applications, which allow for partial electrification, are also gaining traction. The systematic electrification of ports and docks is expected to further support the adoption of electric vessels by providing charging infrastructure during stops, thus reducing emissions.
The SEABAT project is at the forefront of advancing electrification in the maritime sector. By developing a fully-electric maritime hybrid concept and exploring different battery technologies, it aims to contribute to the reduction of emissions in the waterborne transport sector. With continued research and development, the vision of a greener maritime industry is within reach.