Are battery-powered cruise ships a viable option?

Are batteries only for ferries and small passenger vessels – or can technology provide energy storage solutions suitable for large cruise ships? Corvus Energy might have the answer

Are battery-powered cruise ships a viable option?
Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen and Fritjof Nansen use Corvus Energy’s systems to sail emission-free in restricted areas

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Lithium-ion battery technology has enabled the hybridisation of ships and made zero-emission solutions on ferries and smaller passenger vessels a reality. The benefits of these batteries are clear; they reduce fuel and maintenance costs, lower emissions and increase safety. 

Battery power is even more beneficial when considering the effects that shipping has on the environment: the industry emits around 1,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, roughly 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions. 

The global cap on sulphur oxide emissions from marine fuel set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will have a significant impact on the marine fuel industry when it comes into effect in January 2020. With a high demand and potentially limited supply, marine fuel costs are likely to increase. Operators will also face difficulties accessing this fuel when docked. 

Cruise operators are feeling these challenges even more acutely for several reasons. First, they have exclusive access to certain areas that are subject to both national restrictions and general regulations. For example, cruise vessels entering Norwegian fjords on the World Heritage List will have to comply with the IMO’s global cap on sulphur oxide emissions, as well as a new zero-emissions regulation from the Norwegian Government from 2026. 

Another challenge faced by the cruise industry is the environmental focus of customers. An increasing number of passengers want the option to book cruise holidays that are more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Depending on sailing routes, operational profile and size, cruise vessels have different energy needs. With an optimal system integration based on a well-defined operational profile, current battery technology cannot enable ships to both sail for hours and dock without producing any emissions. 

To help cruise operators tackle these challenges, maritime energy storage systems (ESSs) supplier Corvus Energy has been working on a new product line specifically for larger cruise vessels. Since 2017, Corvus has been working with operators, shipowners and a team of experienced engineers to create a solution. The outcome is a low-weight, high-capacity ESS with a state-of-the-art battery monitoring system. The module-based solution is suitable for both upgrade and newbuild projects. The new ESS, which will be launched in summer 2019, enables unlimited battery storage. A typical battery package will store between 10 – 50 megawatt-hours of power and can be used while in harbour, manoeuvring and sailing. The storage system will allow cruise vessels to operate in sensitive areas, such as ports or fjords with emission restrictions, giving them the time to enter, dock and return to open waters without producing any emissions. 

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Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
Thursday, April 25, 2019