From sails to wings: Maritime players innovate on fuel efficiency


ROTATING sails, hybrid boats and vessels inspired by birds – these are some of the innovations that Singapore-listed companies are deploying to improve the energy efficiency of maritime transportation as the shipping industry aims to lower its emissions and reach net zero “by or around” 2050.

Going hybrid

Electrification is another way shipbuilders are looking to cut fuel usage, although deploying this requires some finesse.

Singapore-listed Penguin International : BTM 0%, which builds aluminium high-speed craft, has several hybrid vessels under construction, said its general manager for group commercial and fleet, George Philip.

Hybrid vessels make sense for certain operating profiles, such as if the vessel alternates between high and low speeds, said Philip.

“When you are running at higher speeds, (say) 15 to 20 knots, the battery is also charged. When you are running at lower speeds, say 0 to 5 knots, the batteries kick in and you’re running an electric boat,” he explained.

If the vessel is moving at a high speed all the time, however, a hybrid vessel would burn more fuel than a conventional vessel because of the extra weight.

Philip added that simple design can often generate greater energy savings than complicated technologies. Penguin focuses on keeping the vessel as light as possible, and optimising hull design.

“We work with designers worldwide so that the hull form we have is actually efficient. That itself can save 5 to 10 per cent of the fuel,” said Philip.

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