Compare electrification readiness levels

The graphs below provide information on electrification options and their readiness levels. You can view the combined options and readiness levels or select them individually by clicking on the coloured labels and filters.

Exploring the advantages of electrification as a marine fuel

  1. Zero carbon: Battery-powered ships produce zero direct emissions of GHGs and harmful pollutants during operation.
  2. Noise reduction: Electric propulsion systems powered by batteries are significantly quieter than traditional engines, reducing noise pollution in marine environments.
  3. Operational flexibility: batteries can provide quick and precise power adjustments for better control and manoeuvrability.
  4. Energy efficiency: Fewer energy conversions are required than when using fuel, and therefore fewer energy losses. Additionally, electric motors are more efficient than combustion engines.

Risks and disadvantages

  1. Limited range: the relatively low energy density of current battery technologies results in a shorter range compared to ships using liquid fuels, and/or significant space required onboard for battery storage, which can limit cargo capacity.
  2. Recharge time and infrastructure requirements: recharging batteries takes longer than conventional refuelling of ships, impacting scheduling and operational efficiencies, and also requires significant port energy infrastructure to support this (particularly fast recharging).
  3. Environmental impacts: the materials used in batteries must be sustainably sourced, and at the end of their life, responsible recycling is required to limit environmental impacts.
  4. Thermal runaway risk: Lithium-ion batteries present a risk of uncontrolled exothermic chemical reactions which needs to be mitigated and crew need to specialised training.

Differences between battery technologies

Examples
  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • Sodium-ion batteries
  • Redox Flow batteries
  • Nickel-Cadmium batteries
  • Advanced lead-acid batteries

Supply chain stages

  • Resources: Renewable energy, raw materials used in batteries
  • Production: Battery production
  • Recharging and ports: recharging facilities, port energy infrastructure (facilities for swappable containerised battery solutions and charging)
  • Handling and storage: storage and onboard measures/crew training
  • Propulsion: Electric motors

 

Electrification readiness insights
Review data on electrification
Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)

 

Resources

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 7 Low-scale pilot production demonstrated Scale-up of both renewable energy infrastructure and raw materials sourcing is required to meet existing demand as well as increased demand for use in shipping

Renewable energy: A scaled-up supply chain and workforce need to be established for the supply of renewable electricity for the purpose of hydrogen generation for shipping.

For this scale-up to take place, there will need to be demand signals from the market. Raw materials: sustainable raw material sourcing scale-up is required, including extracting these materials in used battery recycling.

 

Production of batteries

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 9 Production and product fully operational Different chemistries and constructions (flow or solid-state) of batteries exist at varying levels of technology readiness. However, the most widely used batteries (e.g., lithium-ion) are already mass-produced and widely used across marine as well as other sectors.

Raw materials used in existing battery technologies are scarce, so technologies using a variety of chemistries need to be considered and, in some cases, further developed.

 

Recharging and ports

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 7 Low scale pilot production demonstrated

The onshore power connections already exist (mature technology). However, the connection points need significant scaling to meet the demand for batteries used to power propulsion, which the local grid infrastructure will need to be able to handle. 

Fast recharging would demand even greater infrastructure, whereas trickle recharging takes too long for many shipowners to consider a viable option (depending on the ship type and schedule).  Ports also aren't yet equipped for swappable containerised battery solution

Development and scaling of infrastructure for fast recharging in ports is needed to meet shipping GW demands in a practical time period, and/or ports will need to develop infrastructure for removing, charging and replacing swappable containerised batteries.

 

Ship - Onboard handling and storage

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 5 Testing prototype in user environment Battery technology is proven, and in use on small regional vessels, however, there are no pilots to prove how the technology would fare on larger vessels, on longer voyages and in ocean-going conditions. The technology needs to be proven operationally on board larger ocean-going vessels. This includes the re-design of ships for battery storage.

 

Ship - Propulsion

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 9 Production and product fully operational Electric drive train systems are mature and well-understood.   

 

Investment Readiness Levels (IRL)

 

Resources

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 2 Commercial trial, small scale Renewable energy: Small-scale commercial trials exist, but scale up is still in the planning phase
Raw materials: There are many examples of raw materials sourced globally for battery production

 

Renewable energy: There is a need to reduce risks of investing in countries with low credit ratings because many of these countries are well-suited to provide renewable resources for scale up of supply.

 

 

Production of batteries

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 2 Commercial trial, small scale Investment in battery production is happening at a large scale. However, only a small fraction of this is for shipping, and since the supply of batteries for all sectors is struggling to meet demand, prices are increasing.  Demand profiles are needed to stimulate investment in suitable battery production (considering chemistry, construction, size and other requirements) for specific shipping applications. Battery producers also need to consider different business models, such as providing energy as a service (using swappable containerised batteries) rather than selling batteries that stay onboard.

 

Recharging and ports

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 2 Commercial trial, small scale The infrastructure is already being used for hotel loads and charging batteries on small, local vessels. However, no commercial trials involve recharging large ocean-going vessel batteries being used to power propulsion.  Demand profiles from shipping need to be defined to stimulate investment in the required scale-up of port infrastructure - this could either be infrastructure for swappable containerised battery solutions or adequate fast-charging infrastructure.

 

Ship - Onboard handling and storage

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 2 Commercial trial, small scale Batteries are proven and used on small ships, often as part of a hybrid system, though there are no trials on larger ocean-going vessels. 

There are high up-front costs of installing battery technology, however, lower operating costs of using batteries. Lack of sufficient charging infrastructure in ports means that using batteries onboard can add operational costs due to time spent recharging in ports, and the space required to store batteries for long voyages limits cargo carrying capacity due to their low energy density.

A robust investment case for different applications (ship type and operating model) needs to be developed, considering the different battery technology solutions and models available (e.g. containerised battery solutions using the "energy as a service" model).

 

Community Readiness Levels (IRL)

 

Resources

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 4 Evidence becoming widespread resulting in initial stakeholder acceptance Renewable energy: Small-scale solutions show some acceptance at a local level however scaling renewable electricity requires community acceptance around potential environmental and social impacts
Raw materials: there are ethical concerns around the sustainable sourcing of scarce raw materials for batteries (e.g., cobalt)
Renewable energy: Communities need to educate on the wider benefits of renewable energy and to dedicate land use for these purposes.
Raw materials: there needs to be greater transparency of social impacts and supply chain sustainability for community acceptance

 

Production of batteries

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 2 Stakeholder support or opposition is becoming understood as a result of pilots Generally, communities are supportive of battery production where renewable energy will be used for charging, although there are ethical concerns around the scarce raw materials  Circular economy principles need to be widely adopted so raw materials are increasingly recovered from recycled batteries, reducing the need for mining the limited supplies of raw materials

 

Recharging and ports

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 2 Stakeholder support or opposition is becoming understood as a result of pilots

Improved air quality around ports strengthens community support for electrification. However, there are potential community impacts from increased local energy demand.

These impacts may be reduced by using containerised battery solutions that can be trickle-charged rather than fast-charged, however, in that case, more batteries would need to be available for swapping. 

Battery removal at the end of useful life also needs to be considered, and although battery recycling schemes exist, these are not globally well-established and robust.

Local port infrastructure needs to be assessed and where necessary, upgraded to ensure it is adequate to meet the demand of the local region as well as port operations (including charging).

 Additionally, effective battery recycling schemes need to be established and adopted globally.

 

Ship - Onboard handling and storage

Fuel Type Rating Description Justification Challenge
Electrification 2 Stakeholder support or opposition is becoming understood as a result of pilots Community acceptance is subject to the electricity for recharging coming from renewable sources and responsible recycling of batteries. Safety concerns around thermal runaway resulting in fires (lithium-ion batteries only) exist. Rules already exist for the safe integration of batteries, and safety-critical functionality is required. Evidence that renewable energy is used for charging is needed for the lifecycle analysis of the solutions. Crew training for emergency response to uncontrolled exothermic chemical reactions (thermal runaway) of lithium-ion batteries is needed.