Singapore To Witness Shell’s ‘Electric Dream’ Ferries

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A recent news article published in the Riviera states that Shell’s ‘Electric Dream’ ferries move closer to reality in Singapore.

All-electric ferries

Contracted last year, the first of a series of new zero-emissions, all-electric ferries will begin construction in Singapore, says Penguin managing director James Tham.

Shell Eastern Petroleum (Pte) unveiled a number of investments over the last two years as part of its 10-year plan to transform its Pulau Bukom manufacturing site into a low-carbon energy solutions hub. 

“These investments will underpin the development of carbon capture and storage, production of biofuels and hydrogen, and recycling plastic waste into feedstock for chemical products, while reducing the production of crude oil products. The goal of the investments in the newly named Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore is “to accelerate our transformation into a provider of net-zero emissions energy products and services,” says Shell downstream director Huibert Vigeveno.

“As a key global hub for Shell, Singapore has a very important role to play in this. Together, these investments will help us to cut carbon emissions at our operations and provide the low-carbon and circular solutions that our customers want, in sectors ranging from chemicals to automotive to aviation,” adds Mr Vigeveno. 

Not forgotten in the transformation of Shell Energy and Chemicals Park is its vital waterborne transportation link that is served by diesel-powered ferries that transport about 3,000 passengers daily from the mainland to Pulau Bukom. 

Singapore’s Penguin International

Last year, Shell awarded a contract to Singapore’s Penguin International to design, build and operate three all-electric ferries for deployment on the approximately 5.5-km ferry route off the Straits of Singapore to replace the current fleet. When operational, this will be the first fully electric ferry service in Singapore and a first for Shell globally. Zero-emissions, fully electric ferries are key pieces to Shell’s ambitions of cutting CO2 emissions by half by 2030 compared with 2016 from its operations at the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore in Pulau Bukom. 

Ambitions becoming reality

Those ambitions are now moving closer to reality. Construction of the first of three all-electric ferries for Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore will begin in March, according to Penguin International managing director James Tham. 

While Mr Tham was not able to reveal too much about the project at this stage, he did confirm that the detailed engineering and long-lead procurement tasks were in the process of being finalised. “We remain on schedule to commission the first Electric Dream ferry in December 2022,” he says. 

Scheduled to start in H1 2023, the long-term charter will comprise a minimum of three pure electric ferries – each with a capacity of 200 passengers on a single deck, 1.2 MWh of batteries and a cruising speed of over 20 knots – making about 1.8M passenger trips annually between the mainland Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal and Pulau Bukom. Each of the aluminium-hulled catamarans will have an overall length of 28 m, beam of 9 m, maximum draught of 1.3 m and depth of 2.2 m. Built to Bureau Veritas class, the Singapore-flag vessels will each have two Danfoss T3000-1500 e-motors that will drive two fixed-pitch propellers. 

Under the contract, Penguin will design, install and operate ultra-fast shore chargers on Pulau Bukom that are capable of recharging each ferry in under 10 minutes. 

This fully privately funded project is named Electric Dream by Penguin and its project partners, Australian ship designer Incat Crowther and vessel propulsion specialists Razor Blunt Labs. 

“One key takeaway, is I doubt anyone has designed 200-passenger commercial ferries that run at over 20 knots and take less than 10 minutes to recharge after every round trip during peak-hour runs,” says Mr Tham.

“You can imagine the kind of battery capacity and charging currents, as well as the cable handling system this would involve. We’ve overcome all the obstacles that were before us. We will commence construction next month of our first vessel.” 

Previously when discussing the project with Riviera Maritime Media, Mr Tham noted the “privately funded Electric Dream project is much more than just electric ferries and shore chargers. It is Singapore’s first real-world commercial application of marine electrification. Penguin and our project partners Incat Crowther and Razor Blunt Labs have designed a safe and reliable end-to-end solution that meets Shell’s standards.” 

Australian designer Incat Crowther

Australian designer Incat Crowther has at least eight vessels in operation featuring electrified drivetrains, including the recently launched Sea Change, a 21-m catamaran ferry owned by Switch Marine that uses hydrogen fuel cells — the first of its type in the US. 

In December, Incat Crowther was awarded a contract to design an Incat Crowther 32 electric ferry for Fullers360 of Auckland, New Zealand. The ferry’s drivetrain consists of four Danfoss EM-PMI540-T4000 electric motors directly mounted to Hamilton HTX42 water jets, with battery power of 1,944 kWh to achieve maximum speeds over 28 knots. 

Switching to zero emissions

Unlike the zero-emissions Electric Dream ferries, Fullers360’s vessel, while primarily electric, will have diesel generators on board that can be used to extend the vessel’s range by directly feeding the propulsion motors, charging the batteries, or in a hybrid boost mode that combines both sources. 

“Shipping’s future will involve different parts of the sector using different fuels, and electrification is a solution to decarbonise short voyages, including port operations,” says Shell Shipping and Maritime general manager, Asia Pacific & Middle East Nick Potter.

“Switching to zero-emissions, fully electric ferries is part of Shell’s ambition to help accelerate progress towards net-zero emissions in the shipping sector.”

Hybrid-electric and fuel cell, too 

Shell and Penguin have collaborated on other alternative fuel projects. In April 2021, the companies, along with Sembcorp Marine, signed a memorandum of understanding covering a feasibility study for the use of hydrogen fuel cells on an existing vessel and, in another project, the Singaporean owner, operator and builder delivered Penguin Tenaga — Singapore’s first electric-hybrid pilot boat — to Shell for Palau Bukom in March 2021. 

Certified by Bureau Veritas with the notation ‘ZE’ (zero emissions), Penguin Tenaga is a 15-m, 12-passenger aluminium pilot boat capable of running in pure electric mode at 5 knots for more than 30 minutes, and in conventional diesel mode can reach a maximum speed of 24 knots. 

Solar panels installed on the roof of Penguin Tenaga’s deckhouse generate electrical energy that is used to recharge mobile devices on board and supplement the vessel’s hotel load. 

The vessel design is based on the same hull form as two of Penguin’s existing monohull pilot boats that are currently operating for Shell Eastern Petroleum in Singapore. 

Hydrogen fuel-cell project

Meanwhile, the hydrogen fuel-cell project will see Shell, as the charterer of the trial vessel and the hydrogen fuel provider, working with shipbuilder Sembcorp Marine and its wholly owned Norwegian design arm LMG Marin, which will design the fuel cell and retrofit the vessel for owner Penguin International. 

This is not LMG Marin’s first foray into hydrogen fuel cells. It is the designer of Hydra, an 82-m double-ended ferry delivered last year that uses liquid hydrogen fuel cells for zero-emissions operation.  

Trial run in Singapore

For the hydrogen fuel cell ship trial in Singapore, Shell is chartering the roro Penguin Tenacity, a conventional steel-hulled landing craft. Fitted with ramps at each end, Penguin Tenacity has an overall length of 78.6 m, beam of 13.4 m, 2.6 m depth and loaded draught of 1.6 m, with a dwt of 387 mt. Each ramp door has a maximum lifting capacity of 50 mt. 

Propulsion for the landing craft is supplied by two Yanmar 6AYM-WET diesel engines, generating 610 kW at 1,900 rpm that drive two Veth VZ-550 Z-drives. Two Cummins 6B5.9-GM83 diesel generators supply auxiliary power. 

Developing and installing an auxiliary power

The trial will develop and install an auxiliary power unit proton exchange membrane fuel cell on Penguin Tenacity, which transports goods, vehicles and equipment on lorries between the mainland and Shell’s Pulau Bukom manufacturing site. 

The goal is to install a hydrogen fuel cell in Penguin Tenacity this year with the intention to operate for a trial period of 12 months. 

Efforts such as Shell’s and its partners are critical to advancing the technologies and infrastructure supporting Singapore’s pledge to cut greenhouse emissions by 36% by 2030 as compared with 2005 levels. There are 1,600 diesel-powered harbour craft operating in Singapore. Electrifying all of the vessels in the harbour will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Singaporean waters. 

What does MPA chief say?

MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon says, “The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is committed to lowering the carbon footprint of our local harbour craft and our port operations. Shell’s bold move to commission new fully electric ferries will take us a step closer to making a low-carbon future a reality for our maritime sector.” 

Three consortiums were awarded funding from MPA’s Maritime GreenFuture Fund for the research, testing and piloting of low-carbon technologies for the electrification of harbour craft.

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Source: Riviera