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Selecting Appropriate Energy Source Options for an Arctic Research Ship


Interest in more sustainable energy sources has increased rapidly in the maritime industry, and ambitious goals have been set for decreasing ship emissions. All industry stakeholders have reacted to this with different approaches including the optimisation of ship power plants, the development of new energy-improving sub-systems for existing solutions, or the design of entirely novel power plant concepts employing alternative fuels. This paper assesses the feasibility of different ship energy sources for an icebreaking Arctic research ship. To that end, possible energy sources are assessed based on fuel, infrastructure availability and operational endurance criteria in the operational area of interest. Promising alternatives are analysed further using the evidence-based Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) method. Then, a more thorough investigation with respect to the required fuel tank space, life cycle cost, and CO2 emissions is implemented. The results demonstrate that marine diesel oil (MDO) is currently still the most convenient solution due to the space, operational range, and endurance limitations, although it is possible to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) and methanol if the ship’s arrangement is radically redesigned, which will also lead to reduced emissions and life cycle costs. The use of liquefied hydrogen as the only energy solution for the considered vessel was excluded from the potential options due to low volumetric energy density, and high life cycle and capital costs. Even if it is used with MDO for the investigated ship, the reduction in CO2 emissions will not be as significant as for LNG and methanol, at a much higher capital and lifecycle cost. The advantage of the proposed approach is that unrealistic alternatives are eliminated in a systematic manner before proceeding to detailed techno-economic analysis, facilitating the decision-making and investigation of various options in a more holistic manner.

Funding source: This research was conducted as part of the GYROSCOPE project, which received funding from the Research Council of Finland under grant number 1353060.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Finland

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