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Developing Singapore’s First Hybrid Electric Bunker Tankers 

Singapore hybrid electric buner tankers
Singapore's first four hybrid electric bunker tugs will enhance decarbonization (file photo)

Published Mar 10, 2022 9:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

A new partnership is launching a project to develop Singapore’s first hybrid bunker tankers. Designed to employ batteries and new generations of energy management systems, the vessel will be part of a growing effort to realize the opportunities for decarbonization in port operations building a similar project that is also working on the construction of an all-electric, zero carbon emissions harbor tug, which would be the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region.

The latest marine electrification project will see up to four hybrid bunker tankers developed for Vitol’s bunker operations company, V-Bunkers. They will be designed by SeaTech Solutions, using Shift’s energy storage systems (ESS). Each of the vessels will be fitted with a 480-kWh liquid-cooled ESS and battery management system developed by Shift Clean Energy. According to the company, this will result in improved fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent.  

“A bunkering fleet is a crucial component of global shipping infrastructure, so it makes sense to look at ways to reduce GHGs here,” said Mike Muller, Head of Vitol Asia. “Adopting the right fuel efficiency technology is imperative to the sector’s growth and development.” 

The ESS system will be primarily used for peak shaving permitting the vessels to store energy during low power consumption for use during peak usage periods, allowing the main generators to operate with a more stable load. According to the companies, this approach will help to optimize energy use, significantly reduce fuel and maintenance costs, improve responsiveness and reliability of power management, and in turn enhance the safety of operations. 

“This demonstrates that there are opportunities to reduce GHGs for oil and gas companies anywhere in the supply chain,” said Brent Perry, Shift’s CEO calling the project “a huge step in decarbonizing the short sea shipping sector.”

SeaTech Solutions and Shift working with Vallianz Holdings and the American Bureau of Shipping last month formed a strategic alliance for the construction of the first e-tug for the Asia Pacific region. Based on the “E-Volt Electric Tug” design by SeaTech, the e-tug will be driven by a fully-classed electric battery system provided by Shift. Measuring an overall length of about 79 feet, the e-tug will be powered by a battery and equipped with azimuth propulsion. It will have a bollard pull in excess of 60 tons with a service speed of over 12 knots. A key feature of this project is the addition of a value-added onshore charging infrastructure that allows any client to seamlessly integrate this vessel into their existing port operations. 

These projects are part of a growing trend to develop the first electric-powered harbor and shortsea vessels. Similar efforts in other regions including the U.S. and New Zealand are also demonstrating the opportunities for e-tugs and battery-powered harbor craft.