Fuelling the Future: what makes sense in next-generation power?
A panel of experts from across the marine and energy sectors define the best solutions for a decarbonised future…
The yachting industry conversation on decarbonising the fleet and weaning ourselves off fossil fuels is transitioning from ponderous to imperative, as the realities of climate change and regulations become impossible to ignore. As an industry, we show great innovation in some sectors, but we are unable to tackle the topic of next-gen fuels alone. With this in mind, this session drew on the knowledge of experts from across the energy and marine sectors to address the issues of energy efficiency, integration, operations, safety and, perhaps most pressingly, infrastructure. Joining Ken Hickling on stage were Andrea Franchini of Siemens Energy, Marnix Hoekstra of Vripack, Tobias Kohl of MTU Rolls Royce, Dirk Kronemeijer of GoodFuels, Giedo Loeff of Feadship, Marta Ponis of RINA, and Ivo Veldhuis of Mayfair Marine.
Attempting to do this session justice in a few hundred words is impossible, but I will highlight some of the key points raised by each of the panellists, as well as reinforce that this will form a part of a larger discussion on SuperyachtNews in the coming weeks, where we will dive deeper into each of the subjects and technologies highlighted.
While each of the panellists was approaching the issue from a differing angle, it was stressed multiple times that there was no competition between any of the ideas and technologies that were being tabled. Speaking first, Kronemeijer laid out the bright future and present for Biofuels. Presented as the most viable low carbon solution most able to be immediately implemented to existing combustion engines, Biofuels are a logical starting point for the conversation. "Initially in 2015 there was still some scepticism around performance, now six years later Bio-fuels have a proven track record across all segment, whether its bulk carriers or military, the last castle we need to conquer is superyachts," said Kronemeijer
Drawing from his extensive experience with Hydrogen fuel cells, Ivo Velduis showcased the consultation and recommendations that Mayfair Marine has submitted to the Thames Clipper in London that they hope will lead to a zero-emission fleet of water buses by 22025/26. As was also highlighted, there is the issue of hydrogen supply and transfer. As yet ill-defined by regulators, the guidance will need to keep pace. Veldhuis and his team see the best way to get results is a combined approach that does not just look at fuel and propulsion systems.
Marnix Hoekstra and Vripax see one of the key influencing factors as the designers' obligation to ensure that everything they present to the client incorporates hybrid technology. "We treat it as a design challenge and a collaborative process", stated Hoekstra. Marta Ponis of RINA affirmed that as a classification society, they "do not have a crystal ball when regarded to what the best solution will be", Ponis did however reinforce that decarbonising and sustainability is also about the efficacy of onboard operations, design optimisation and fuel efficiency. Tobias Kohl stressed that, as engine manufacturers, they have multifaceted solutions in place and are ready to work collaboratively with the industry, because as he highlighted;
"Our enemy is not the combustion engine, our Enemy is C02." - Tobias Kohl.
Andrea Franchini of Siemens Energy underscored that they have over 100 years of experience with electric propulsion, with the first electric vessel launched in 1886. He was also quick to highlight that not all references are relevant "The Telsa of the sea idea makes no sense at all", affirming that instead, integration of many technologies will be would be the solution to meet the operational demand profile demands of the superyacht industry.
Giedo Loeff of Feadship also highlighted that, as well as the overarching goal of decarbonising, any solutions that they develop as designers need to have a minimal impact both underway and while and in the locations that the yacht visits. While he sees promise in the mature technology of hydrogen fuel cells, Leoff also pointed out the everpresent fact that, as yet, a large superyacht operating in zero-emission mode with hydrogen fuels cells is a long way from having a transatlantic range.
The conversation covered a wide range of vital issues, and crucially, showed a great willingness from a broad range of different sectors to work collaboratively. A great example the showcased the spirit of the session was when the issues of infrastructure a supply were raised by a marina representative in attendance, to which Veldhuis quickly replied, "Why don't we arrange a meeting and discuss it?"
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