Sunday, October 1, 2023
Maritime Propulsion

August 17, 2023

World's First Methanol Hybrid Fuel Cell Tug Taking Shape

Credit: Svitzer

Towage and marine solution services firm Svitzer on Thursday launched the second phase of its project to design the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell (MHFC) tug.

Svitzer, part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, has conducted technical studies to establish the feasibility of this type of vessel accommodating the real-world operational requirements of a tug. 

Work will now begin between Svitzer and naval architect company Robert Allan Ltd. to design the world’s first MHFC tug. 

The next phase will include work to complete the vessel design, scope considerations for vessel construction, and onboard equipment selection necessary to build the vessel.

The MHFC tug will use an electrical propulsion system with methanol fuel cells and batteries, delivering a self-sustained tug with longer endurance and fewer operational constraints than a purely battery-powered vessel, Svitzer said.

According to Svitzer, secondary methanol fueled generators will provide backup power if required without the need for a secondary fuel. 

"Calculations indicate that the MHFC tug running on green methanol would prevent approximately 1,300 tonnes of CO2 annually from being emitted into the atmosphere, compared to fossil-fuel-based vessels of the same dimensions within Svitzer’s global fleet," Svitzer added.

The design of the MHFC tug will be a joint project between Svitzer and Robert Allan Ltd. using Svitzer’s TRAnsverse tug design as the basis for the project. Svitzer will look to forge partnerships with other companies to finalize the selection of onboard equipment, such as the batteries and fuel cell system, and to support construction once the design phase is complete.

Gareth Prowse, head of decarbonization at Svitzer, said, “We’re excited to enter the next phase of delivering the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell tug. This project is a major milestone in Svitzer’s commitment to the decarbonization of our global fleet and demonstrates our ability to harness new technologies and alternative fuels to deliver innovations that will have a significant, positive impact on shipping’s road to net zero.”

“The combination of fuel cell technology and green methanol will result in improved operational efficiencies, resulting in less fuel consumption and lower emissions. We’re delighted to be collaborating with Robert Allan Ltd. to design the MHFC tug and look forward to bringing on new partners to construct the vessel which will operate at the Port of Gothenburg in Sweden.”

The MHFC is expected to enter operations in the second half of 2025 at the Port of Gothenburg in Sweden, where methanol is the low-carbon alternative fuel of choice.

Göran Eriksson, Port of Gothenburg CEO, said, "The Port of Gothenburg has set ambitious targets to reduce shipping emissions within the port area by 70% by 2030. To deliver on that ambition, the transition of shipping lines from fossil fuels to more sustainable fuels such as green methanol is critically important. Svitzer's decision to design and construct the world's first methanol hybrid fuel cell tug is a major milestone which sets the example for the long-term decarbonization of global towage services. We're excited to welcome this pioneering new vessel to the Port of Gothenburg when it enters into operation in 2025."