All-electric tugboats with ABB drives: high efficiency and zero emissions

All-electric tugboats with ABB drives: high efficiency and zero emissions

Three new all-electric harbor tugs using ABB liquid cooled drives will deliver high energy efficiency, low operating costs, ultra-low noise and zero emissions.

ElectRa 2800 with an overall length of 28.4 meters and an expected bollard pull of 70 tonnes are currently under construction by Sanmar Shipyards in Istanbul,Turkey, and will be completed during 2022.

“These new tugs are very environmentally friendly. They are designed to operate on battery power while executing ship-berthing and unberthing missions, and will produce no emissions during operation,” says Tamer Geckin, Director, R&D and Electrical Systems of Sanmar.

Each tug will have an energy storage capacity of 5,288 kWh. A shore connection will provide quick charging, which will typically take around three hours overall. They also have two backup diesel generators on board to help out when additional power is required or for longer transits, such as when traveling to a shipyard for maintenance.

System integration for the project is being handled by Elkon, which is based in Istanbul and specializes in serving the ship building industry. It has a long-standing relationship with ABB, and the two companies worked together on their first hybrid system in 2013.

“Electrification for decarbonization is central to our company’s vision,” says Ertug Yasar, Managing Director, Elkon. “We are playing our own part in the decarbonization of the maritime industry by providing innovative electrification technology for vessels. These zero-emission ElectRA tugs show what can be achieved with advanced battery and drive technologies.”

Versatile liquid cooled drives

ABB has supplied ACS880 liquid cooled drives for the ElectRA tugs. The vessels will have a DC based main power distribution system with an accompanying AC grid for the hotel load. Redundancy is built in to ensure safety and operational reliability. The ABB drives will be deployed 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.

All-electric vessels achieve high energy efficiency because electric motors are more efficient than diesel and other combustion engines. Maintenance requirements are also much lower, as electric drivetrains need less maintenance than diesel systems. These factors help to keep operating costs down.

“These tugs will significantly reduce emissions in their port, while at the same time cutting OPEX for the owner. This is a clear win-win for the bottom line as well as future generations,” says Daniel Olsson, Global Sales Manager System Drives Division, ABB. “It is expected that each ElectRA 2800 will eliminate around 1,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, when compared to equivalent diesel powered vessels. Together, all three tugs will eliminate over 5,000 tonnes of CO2,which is roughly equal to the annual carbon emissions of 1,000 cars. They will also run much quieter than diesel tugs, with reduced Underwater Radiated Noise (URN) in the port and minimized noise and vibration on board for increased crew comfort.”
  • ElectRa electric propulsion tug (Picture: Courtesy of Elkon)
  • ElectRa electric propulsion tug (Picture: Courtesy of Elkon)
  • ElectRa electric propulsion tug (Picture: Courtesy of Elkon)

The three ElectRA tugs are expected to go into service in 2023 and will be operated by HaiSea Marine to provide ship-assist and escort towing services at the new LNG export facility in Kitimat, British Columbia, Canada. Sanmar Shipyards is a leading builder and operator of tugs, and has been in the business for more than 45 years. It has already announced plans to construct a further three ElectRA 2300 tugs.

“At ABB we are honored to work with leading companies like Sanmar and Elkon on the development of technologically advanced zero-emission tugs in Turkey. We are pleased that we can play our small part in making these pioneering tugs a reality for HaiSea Marine,” Daniel Olsson states.

“Working with our partners, we have considerable expertise and a strong track record in marine electrification. Given their operational profiles, we see tugs as prime candidates to benefit from electrification and we believe construction of electric tugs will grow rapidly in the coming years,” adds Tamer Geckin, Sanmar.


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