As the marine industry continues its journey of reducing emissions, one company leading the way is BAE Systems, a company that has been involved in electric and hybrid propulsion for over 25 years.
“Our goal is to help marine operators achieve zero emissions, and it doesn’t matter if it’s an all-electric, hybrid or even fuel cell application. We have the technology to help operators reduce their emissions and continue operating as they are used to with conventional propulsion,” said Joe Hudspeth, BAE Systems Business Development Manager, Global Marine.
BAE Systems’ HybriGen power and propulsion system is designed to help improve power and efficiency, reducing or even eliminating fuel consumption and emissions in the process. The latest version, launched towards the end of 2021, uses smaller and lighter components, and its Modular Accessory Power System (MAPS) and Modular Power Control System (MPCS) allow for a scalable and on-demand solution. able to accommodate specific horsepower and propulsion. requirements of a range of vessels, from passenger ferries to tugboats.
Hudspeth said BAE Systems has seen industry interest in the system grow in recent years, particularly for passenger ships, ferries and research vessels, and more recently harbor craft as well as crew transfer vessels (CTV) for offshore wind. “We certainly see momentum building right now for hybrid, electric and even fuel cell propulsion,” he said, noting that the industry has moved from a “learning environment” and wanting know what the technology is, to now “accept hybrid and electric technology as a viable source of propulsion. . . Now they ask how they can integrate this technology on their boats.
“When you think of harbor tugs or pilot boats, patrol boats, these are vessels that spend 90% of their time at less than 50% of their installed power – a lot of time loitering. And that lounging time leads to excessive and unnecessary emissions,” Hudspeth said. “So why not do it with all-electric, emission-free power?”
Another key area of opportunity for HybriGen from BAE Systems is the CTV segment. “We see North America really getting ready to enter the offshore wind industry,” Hudspeth said. “If you go for a green form of power generation for our homes and businesses, the vessels that tend to these wind farms should also have similar low-emission, low-carbon propulsion systems.”
Among the most notable applications of the HybriGen system is the Sea Change, the first US vessel powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. And BAE Systems has secured a number of notable orders around the world in recent months. In the United States, he was asked to provide his solution to provide low and zero emissions operating capability for a new hybrid electric passenger vessel being built by North Kingstown, RI Senesco Marine shipyard for Maine State Ferry Service (MSFS).
“For this particular project, we’re using a parallel hybrid propulsion system,” Hudspeth said. “It has a conventional propulsion plant installed on board the ship, which is supplemented by electric propulsion. We actually use zero-emission all-electric propulsion to keep the ship docked while cars and passengers load. It’s done completely without emissions. And this particular boat, the ship has to be up against the dock and have the propulsion engaged. And we can do it completely silently, without vibrations and without emissions. And then, when the ship leaves the quay and leaves the port, it can also do so with all-electric propulsion until it starts at full cruising speed. Then it will use conventional-based propulsion. And it’s all done through a seamless transition. The captain just has to concentrate on driving the boat. Everything is fully automated.
The system will also be able to provide a boost when power requirements exceed what conventional propulsion can provide. “Our electric propulsion can work in conjunction with that diesel propulsion and provide boost power even at higher power ranges,” Hudspeth said. “It’s a unique feature of a parallel hybrid propulsion system.”
In addition to the parallel hybrid drive configuration, HybriGen can also be used in all-electric applications or even hybrid applications that use series hybrid drive. The scalable system can be customized to provide all the power needed for hotel propulsion and auxiliary loads. “It’s really a modular and flexible platform that gives us a lot of capabilities,” Hudspeth said. “We can even use this same system to facilitate the whole battery charging process.”
While the modularity and scalability of HybriGen help BAE Systems adapt the system to a wider range of vessels and operational profiles, these features also help the company meet customer needs at all stages of vessel movement. decarbonization. “We realize it’s a journey. Not everyone is ready to achieve zero emissions today,” Hudspeth said. “We can offer a hybrid solution that uses diesel as the source of electricity generation. Or we can use the same HybriGen technology for all-electric, just adding more batteries. What’s great is that people can start with a hybrid solution today and very quickly in the future go all-electric, just by adding more power through batteries or tapping into the infrastructure of charging ashore to recharge these batteries.
Of course, there are a number of challenges that accompany the territory for hybrid and electric vessel projects, as there are for the adoption of any “new” technology. For battery electric vessels in particular, Hudspeth said: “One of the main challenges is that many of the quays and quays in which these vessels operate have not been properly configured to accommodate shore-based charging infrastructure. . . It will take some time for this infrastructure to develop, but we believe there are solutions today that can help people get started in operations with lower emissions.
Another challenge, according to Hudspeth, is initial costs which are typically higher than traditional propulsion options. “The cost is generally high, but if you look at the total cost of ownership, you will find that hybrid, electric or even fuel cell propulsion definitely has a return on investment. And this return on investment comes in both form tangible lower operational costs, but also intangible benefits… We can help operators review the total cost of ownership and show them what they can expect with an alternative propulsion system.
Hudspeth noted reduced noise, less vibration and the vessels ability to operate safely in sensitive coastal environments among the main benefits. The HybriGen can also be used with geofencing technology that allows vessels likely to use hybrid propulsion to switch to emissions-free all-electric mode whenever they enter a specific GPS-defined boundary, Hudspeth said. “There is no need to push buttons or pull levers. This happens automatically and you can ensure the vessel operates with a lower carbon footprint in these sensitive coastal environments.