Shipbuilding: UECC Takes Delivery of Auto Advance, a “Dual-fuel LNG Battery Hybrid PCTC”
While many companies talk about decarbonization, United European Car Carrier (UECC) acts, as proven by its recent acceptance of the world’s first dual-fuel LNG battery hybrid PCTC, Auto Advance, delivered from China’s Jiangnan Shipyard and Maritime Reporter & Engineering News’ 2021 Great Ship of the Year.
The ship is the first in a series of three newbuild pure car and truck carriers (PCTC), measuring 169 by 28 meters with capacity for 3600 vehicles on 10 cargo decks. The remaining two sister vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2022.
“This is another big step forward in eco-friendly ship operations that shows we walk the talk,” said UECC chief executive Glenn Edvardsen. In an interview with Maritime Reporter TV earlier this year, Edvardsen said "Do we believe LNG will be the fuel of the future? No, not at all. We think something better will come along, but today it is the most environmentally friendly fuel on the market. When we see something better come along, I'm sure we will also be able to burn that. (With these three new ships) we also introduced the battery element, which we think is extremely important. It's not like we are able to sail on battery alone; then, probably, the battery package would be bigger than the vessel. But we are able to reduce the emission even more than when only running on LNG."
He continued: "Our strategy is not to sit back and wait for the perfect solution to come along. I think we need to take action now. LNG is a proven, compliant, and immediately viable solution to reduce shipping greenhouse gas emissions. Flexibility is the name of the game and that's what we have by choosing LNG. We are run by NYK Line and Wallenius Line, 50/50. Environmental sustainability is in the DNA of both companies."
UECC has taken the lead in the PCTC segment by developing the pioneering design, together with DNV and Jiangnan’s in-house ship designer Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute, to incorporate proven technology in a new configuration geared to enhancing operational and environmental performance.
“This is another big step forward in eco-friendly ship operations that shows we walk the talk,” said UECC chief executive Glenn Edvardsen. Photo courtesy UECC
LNG battery hybrid technology, together with an optimized hull design for better fuel efficiency, will enable these newbuilds to exceed the IMO requirement to cut carbon intensity by 40% from 2008 levels within 2030. Emissions of carbon dioxide will be reduced by around 25%, SOx and particulate matter by 90% and NOx by 85% from the use of LNG, while the newbuilds will also meet the IMO’s Tier 3 NOx emissions limitations for the North Sea and Baltic Sea.
The technology of course comes with a price tag. "For these vessels, we usually talk about between $6 to $7 million (in additional cost)," Edvardsen said in his interview earlier this year with Maritime Reporter TV.
Dual-fuel engine technology has now been combined with an energy storage system (ESS), supplied by Finland’s WE Tech, incorporating a battery package from Corvus Energy that will be charged by a permanent magnet, directly driven shaft generator or dual-fueled generators.
The ESS, which will provide power to the main switchboard with a DC link for power distribution, will enable peak shaving for the main engine and auxiliaries to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, with a controllable pitch propeller, bulb rudder and dual-fuel boiler also part of the power system.
These vessels will require only two auxiliary dual-fuel gensets, in addition to the main engine, as the ESS and shaft generator provide a spinning reserve to eliminate the need for another genset that would normally be required.
The launching ceremony. Photo courtesy UECC
The hybrid solution, which has gained DNV’s Battery Safety notation, will be steered by an intelligent energy management system, supplied by Kongsberg Maritime, that will serve as a control system for overall energy production and consumption – essentially the ‘energy brain’ of the vessel.
Batteries can be most efficiently charged while at sea using the shaft generator so that they are fully charged when entering port, enabling the vessel to maneuver in port using bow thrusters driven solely by battery power that can also supply the ship’s other energy needs while it is docked.
"This will effectively eliminate emissions while in port and these vessels are also equipped to connect to green power from shore that is becoming increasingly available in order to reduce harmful emissions of NOx, SOx and particulate matter,” said Jan Thore Foss, UECC’s head of ship management and newbuilding.
Operational flexibility can deliver significant fuel efficiency gains and Foss believes this, combined with a low-emissions profile, will give the vessels an advantage in the European market as EU plans to include shipping in the Emissions Trading System are set to hike costs for pollutive vessels.
Edvardsen claims that UECC, jointly owned by green-focused players NYK and Wallenius Lines, is presently the only shipping company in its regional market segment that is investing in sustainable newbuilds. “UECC has already achieved a substantial reduction in the carbon intensity of its fleet, but we aspire to do much more,” he said. While UECC has taken definitive action, Edvardsen shared his advice for others mulling a technology upgrade: “Don't sit back and wait for the perfect solution to come along. There are viable technologies, there are opportunities out there. So don't sit back and wait, jump on it.”
- Watch Glenn Edvardsen discuss the technology behind this ship with Maritime Reporter TV: