Sanmar Shipyards builds the zero-emission tugs of the future using ABB technology

Sanmar Shipyards builds the zero-emission tugs of the future using ABB technology

Electrification is playing a central role in the maritime industry’s efforts to reduce emissions, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Tugboats are at the forefront of this trend. Türkiye-based Sanmar Shipyards is the world leader in electric tugs, supported by electrical system integrator Elkon. Working closely with the two companies, ABB is supplying liquid cooled drives for their current electric tug projects.

Tugs are relatively small in size but extremely powerful, with a power-to-weight ratio that can be ten times that of larger vessels. They also need to be highly responsive and maneuverable to work effectively in ports and harbors where space can be very restricted. At the same time tugs have very limited space onboard for equipment.

Tugboat operators are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and protect the environment. Fully electric operation not only cuts emissions but also delivers important cost benefits. An electric power train consisting of batteries, drives and electric motors provides very high efficiency and requires less maintenance than the conventional diesel-mechanical equivalent. As a result, fully-electric tugs typically have lower operating costs than similar diesel powered vessels.

Eco-friendly ElectRA tugs

The operational profiles of tugs make them excellent candidates for electrification, and Sanmar Shipyards has established itself as the leading supplier of electric tugs. Sanmar was established almost 50 years ago and is based in Istanbul, Türkiye. It builds tugs, workboats and pilot boats for the world markets, and provides towing services with its own tugs.

Sanmar currently has seven innovative ElectRA tugs on order or in production based on three different designs by Robert Allan Ltd, a firm of naval architects headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.

“Our mission is to lead the tug and towing industry to a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly low and no emissions future,” says Tamer Geçkin, R&D and Electrical Systems Director, Sanmar Shipyards. “Industry experts have praised these game-changing ElectRA vessels as the tugs of the future, and we have already seen a lot of interest from tug operators around the world.”

Sanmar is building an ElectRA 2200SX for Norwegian marine services company Buksér og Berging. This vessel is due to be delivered in November 2023 and will operate in the Port of Oslo. It will have an overall length of 22.4 meters and achieve a bollard pull in excess of 45 tons from 1,718 kWh of battery power.

Of the three ElectRA 2300SX tugs on order, two will join the Canadian fleet operated by SAAM Towage. The ElectRA 2300SX has been designed to accommodate a large battery capacity to enable a high bollard pull in a flush deck design, with the option to maintain some backup diesel generator capacity. The vessels will achieve a bollard pull of 70 tonnes based on a conceptual battery power of 3,616 kWh.

Three ElectRA 2800 tugs will be supplied to Haisea and operated at a new LNG export facility in Kitimat, Canada. They will have an overall length of 28.4 meters and a bollard pull of 70 tonnes. Their energy storage capacity will be 6,102 kWh, with quick charging from a shore connection taking around three hours. Each of the tugs will eliminate around 1,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, when compared to equivalent diesel vessels. All three together will therefore save around 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which is roughly the same level of emissions as produced by 1,000 cars.

ElectRA tugs are tailored to the individual customer’s specific needs. They maximize the potential of electric propulsion without compromising on power, performance, strength or versatility. Rapid charging is combined with best-in-class battery capacity, excellent thrust responsiveness and an ultra-low noise signature.

Image courtesy of SANMAR
Image courtesy of SANMAR

Decarbonizing the world’s ports

Electrical system integration for Sanmar’s ElectRA tugs is provided by Elkon. Based in Istanbul, Elkon has been operating since 1980 and has been part of the Schottel Group since 2022. It has so far contributed to the construction of more than fifty battery hybrid and full-electric vessels, and has established local offices in Norway and the USA.

“Electrification for decarbonization is a central aspect of our company’s vision,” says Özgür Arslancan, Director, Concept Design & Technology, Elkon. “We provide innovative electrification technology for vessels, like the advanced battery and drive technologies that we are building into the ElectRA tugs.”

ABB has been working with Sanmar and Elkon for a number of years and supplies ACS880 liquid cooled drives for the ElectRA tugs. The versatile drives fulfil several roles: they operate as battery DC/DC converters, inverters for the propulsion motors and fire-fighting pump, genset and shore rectifiers, and off-grid converters for the hotel load. Redundancy is built in to ensure safety and operational reliability. They are flexible to fit in the limited space available but deliver extremely high levels of performance. Built into these environmentally-friendly vessels, the drives will play a part in helping decarbonize ports and reduce environmental impacts.

“Our compact and efficient solutions are ideal for electric tugs, says Daniel Olsson, Global Sales Manager for Marine Industry in ABB’s System Drives division. We are proud to work with partners like Sanmar and Elkon, two innovative companies that had made strong commitments to helping their customer reduce emissions and OPEX, while increasing sustainability.”


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