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Svitzer takes the methanol route – Splash247

Towage operator Svitzer, part of Maersk, has moved to develop the world’s first fuel cell tug for harbour operations, running on green methanol. The fuel cell tug will function as a pilot for future Svitzer newbuilds and is planned to be put into operation within the Svitzer Europe region by Q1 2024.

Svitzer has signed an agreement with Robert Allan to design the green methanol-fuelled vessel. The Canadian naval architect and marine engineering firm, which recently unveiled its design for a methanol-fuelled crew transfer vessel for the offshore wind industry, will in collaboration with Svitzer explore the combination of methanol fuel cells, batteries, storage/handling systems, electric drives and propulsion units as a carbon neutral alternative to the conventional fossil fuelled propulsion train.

The 80-ton bollard pull newbuild tug will come with a hybrid electric propulsion system solution where fuel cells can be dimensioned to deliver a specific amount of sustained bollard pull using fuel cells alone, adding additional power from the batteries during the short but often frequent peaks that characterises towage. The fuel cells can be used to charge the batteries when the tug is mobilising and when the tug is berthed, minimising the need for shore-side charging facilities, Svitzer explained.

Ingrid Uppelschoten Snelderwaard, global COO of Svitzer, said: “Fuel cells will be applicable as main propulsion power for tugs earlier than for larger vessels, and further, the time to build a tug is significantly less than for a container vessel. Svitzer will obtain valuable knowledge and operational experience handling fuel cells as an alternative to diesel or pure electric power. We consider this project a significant step in Svitzer’s ambition to lead the decarbonisation of towage and an important contribution to the joint efforts to develop solutions with a positive impact on the environment.”

Svitzer and Maersk are working together to determine technologies that support the overall Maersk decarbonisation journey. The goal is to extract and apply methanol feasibility knowledge and operational experience from near-shore small-scale tugs to larger ocean-going container vessels.

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