The use of electricity onboard ships is primarily driven by operational, design and sustainability aspects.
Today, there are several solutions in the market for electrification of ships, from pure electric to hybrid-electric and hybrid plug-in models. The implementation is growing at fast pace in terms of number of installations and installed power. However, the current low energy density of battery systems leads to applications on ships that are either involved in short-distance routes or engaged in services which do not require high autonomy. For deep-sea shipping, engaged in longer routes, hybrid options which include other renewable and low carbon energy sources, can be a suitable alternative towards GHG reduction.
Operation of electric power-driven ships requires shore-side infrastructure not only for supply of shore power but also for charging secondary battery groups onboard. Interconnectivity and interoperability are key challenges to address for shore-side electricity connection.
From a safety perspective, two sides of the problem need to be analysed: on the one hand, the safety risks due to the installation of high-capacity batteries onboard ships; and, on the other, the risks coming from the interface between onshore charging stations and the ship itself.