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Event flags opportunities in hybrid marine propulsion

Published: March 1, 2018

Falmouth Marine School Falmouth B2B

More than 100 delegates representing the full range of maritime industries descended on Falmouth to discover the latest research in marine propulsion.

The Marine-i Discovery Room events are designed to draw together all the very latest thinking on a specific theme of marine technology and highlight opportunities for businesses

Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Marine-i provides support for the marine technology sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

With the theme of Hybrid Marine Propulsion and Smart Battery Technology, the event was hosted at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

Delegates were welcomed by Justin Olosunde, Head of Falmouth Marine School and Director of Technology for the Cornwall College Group and Professor John Chudley, Director of Professional Development at the Institute for Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST).

Speakers with technical expertise presented to the attendees and Professor Chris Hodge, President of IMarEST, gave a detailed overview of the potential future use of hybrid and electric technology by the Navy.

Ken Wittamore of Triskel Marine outlined how hybrid technology has particularly strong potential for smaller craft and also addresses the financial challenges involved.

Emma Baggett, Falmouth Marine School’s Business Development Manager, was the lead organiser for this event and said it was fantastic to see it so well attended and to “have so much outstanding expertise gathered in one room”.

“From the discussions that took place and the feedback we received from delegates, it is clear that hearing first-hand about the leading-edge developments in hybrid propulsion has helped to stimulate some exciting new thinking from the businesses that attended,” she added.

Trevor Jackson, Chairman of MAL (R&D) spoke about the latest battery technology and described in detail the development of the revolutionary new Aluminium Air Batteries. Compared to conventional batteries, these are safer, more cost effective, and fully recyclable and create zero CO2 emissions.

Darren Barnett representing MTU UK Ltd spoke about his company’s latest developments in hybrid marine systems. MTU specialise in being a systems supplier and a systems integrator suppling both the rail and maritime industry. Darren highlighted the benefits of hybrid across all transport sectors including the superyacht industry which is currently showing a strong interest in the technology providing fuel savings and a quieter environment for guests.

Strong themes emerged from the day, with the likelihood for hybrid systems to be most easily applied to smaller vessels and although the superyacht industry has produced a number of fully or partly hybridised vessels these are currently highly bespoke builds. Electric or partial hybrid propulsion systems current technology is best suited for small marine craft, pilot boats, tugs, short distance ferries, recreational vessels, harbour patrol boats and specialist tourist vessels.

Oslo and Amsterdam are two ports that have already legislated for zero emissions, and it is predicted that hybrid will become the technology of choice in the next 10 years.

Worldwide marine trade growth is expected to increase by 40% by 2030, with the demand for energy supply expanding by 45%, which is likely to bring further focus on environmental legislation, given the challenges of climate change.

The morning was drawn to a close by John Chudley who outlined the help, support and potential funding opportunities available through Marine-i.

After lunch, delegates discussed in detail the key opportunities for marine technology businesses in this field and took part in round table discussions to produce action points for addressing the technical challenges and explore possible collaboration. Including the potential for the River Fal to be emission free.

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