Why should you shift to a hybrid marine propulsion system?

14 Jul 2021

Why should you shift to a hybrid marine propulsion system?


The maritime industry transports approximately 10 billion tons of cargo around the world each year and is one of the most significant contributors to global pollution. In an attempt to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 50%, the maritime industry has been trying to transition its operations from a fossil fuel system to one powered by electricity. This is also known as marine electrification


As the world shifts toward more eco-friendly and sustainable practices, the marine propulsion system industry has seen significant growth and development, with many electrical propulsion alternatives emerging over the years. One of which is the hybrid marine propulsion system. We discuss the difference between marine propulsion systems powered by fossil fuels and hybrid marine propulsion systems, as well as why your company should consider switching to a hybrid marine propulsion system


Two of the most common marine propulsion systems used since the early days are diesel propulsion systems and the steam turbine propulsion system. The former is the most common marine propulsion system, which uses diesel fuel to generate energy and propel a vessel forward, whereas the latter uses coal or other fuels to generate steam to move a vessel, and both of these marine propulsion systems contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. 


An Introduction to Hybrid Marine Propulsion Systems


Unlike diesel propulsion systems and steam turbine propulsion systems, the hybrid marine propulsion system combines two or more sources of power such as diesel electric, battery, solar and more, into a single marine propulsion system. It can be used to propel a wide range of boats such as crew boats, ferries, workboats, yachts, self-propelled barges and more.


For example, a hybrid marine propulsion system with a combination of diesel electric and battery power sources allows the propulsion system to operate by drawing power from both sources individually or concurrently. This combination gives the propulsion system wide flexibility in operation efficiency optimisation and reduces fuel consumption significantly. 


How Does The Hybrid Marine Propulsion System Work?


The hybrid marine propulsion system has the ability to optimise its performance in accordance with the different boat propulsion loading profiles. 


For example, hybrid ferries use batteries as the main power source in harbour areas and switch to diesel electric as the main power source during cruising.


Below are some examples of how the propulsion system is configured into different operation modes to cater to various loading profiles. 


1. Battery-only mode

To operate with the power source coming from only the battery. This mode is suitable for when the boat operates at low speed in harbour areas and short-range operation.


2. Diesel electric only mode

Diesel Electric is selected as a main power source and this mode is suitable during cruising.


3. Charging mode

If the energy level in the battery is not sufficient during the operation, the spare energy from the diesel electric drive can be used to charge the battery.


4. Boosting mode

Both diesel electric and battery provides power jointly to the marine propulsion system when maximised power to propulsion is required.


The flexibility of the hybrid marine propulsion system provides maritime companies and crew with better and more efficient operating systems.


Benefits of The Hybrid Marine Propulsion System


Marine electrification has provided vessel operators with a plethora of new propulsion systems to explore, and switching to a hybrid marine propulsion system will not only help a company reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to climate change prevention, but will also provide numerous other benefits such as comfort and economic benefits.


The hybrid propulsion system provides a quieter, vibration-free and emission-free operating system, making the journey significantly more comfortable for everyone on board. The batteries and energy management system also reduces life cycle costs and lowers fuel consumption while providing companies with higher power output levels, better speed, and better performance.


As the cost of fossil fuels and pollution concerns continue to rise around the world, so will interest in the hybrid marine propulsion system, which will continue to see further development over the years. Do your part to reduce your carbon footprint by switching to an energy-efficient and cost-efficient propulsion system today, contact us for information on how to get started on marine electrification.