Across the land-based electric vehicle sectors tracked by IDTechEx, there is mostly a transition to battery-electric propulsion systems over the next two decades. The case is not so simple for the marine sector: due to the sheer scale of the power, energy and distance requirements for merchant vessels, reducing maritime emissions will require solutions ranging from giant Li-ion battery systems to green hydrogen fuel cells and other alternative fuels.
The new IDTechEx report, "Electric Boats & Ships 2024-2044", provides granular 20-year forecasts in unit sales, battery demand (GWh) & battery market value ($ bn) for electric ferry, electric cargo/container, electric Ro-Ro, electric cruise, electric OSV, electric tugboat and electric recreational boats by power class (<1kW, <12kW, >25kW). Based on primary supplier interviews, it further shares technology analysis and price information on marine Li-ion battery systems ($/kWh 2020 - 2044) and electric propulsion systems.
Today, electric & hybrid propulsion systems in marine have mostly emerged in recreational boating, ferries and short-sea or inland vessels, where they have enjoyed steady uptake due to small vessel sizes or well-defined operational profiles that allow for opportunity charging. The IDTechEx report finds that cumulative battery deliveries since 2013 are set to surpass the milestone of 1GWh in 2023. While growth has been strong in inland and coastal marine sectors, uptake in larger deep-sea vessels is less rapid but gaining momentum as unprecedented global emissions regulations upcoming from the IMO and EU, which initially targeted NOx, SOx & PM, now focus on carbon & GHG emissions.
Annual maritime battery deliveries (MWh). Source: IDTechEx - "Electric Boats & Ships 2024-2044"
New IMO policy includes an 'Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI)' and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII). EEXI ensures a ship is taking technical steps, in terms of how it is equipped and retrofitted, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CII is a measure of the carbon emissions per amount of cargo carried per mile and targets reducing emissions operationally. The measures are expected to become mandatory from 2023, with the first ship ratings given in 2024.
Source: IDTechEx - "Electric Boats & Ships 2024-2044"
The maritime sector is, therefore, under increasing pressure to decarbonize and meet broader climate goals. While there is no silver bullet, solutions are potentially emerging into 'multiple silver bullets', each of which can target a specific subsector. For example, batteries for pure electric ferries and tugboats, and green fuels (often paired with batteries) in hybrid sea-going vessels. For more information on green hydrogen, green ammonia and fuel cell applications in shipping, see the IDTechEx report, "Fuel Cell Boats & Ships 2023-2033: PEMFC, SOFC, Hydrogen, Ammonia, LNG".
Pure battery-electric ships are often the best solution where operationally possible, in terms of reducing emissions and, typically, lifetime ROI costs. Technological advancements in electric powertrain technology, driven by the automotive sector, are allowing multi megawatt-hour systems to be proposed and installed on individual vessels, such as the 70MWh Ro-pax ferry proposed by Stena Line.
By volume, electric recreational & leisure boating is the largest market, with tens of thousands of electric propulsion systems sold yearly and new market entrants into the sector from incumbents such as Mercury Marine and General Motors (with an investment into Pure Watercraft). Recreational boats are the cars of the marine world - privately owned with relatively short-range requirements and pure electric with batteries up to a few hundred kWh. In contrast, several hundred hybrid deep-sea vessels are in-service today. Yet, this sector has the largest market value and demand for maritime batteries in the future due to the vessel sizes and high energy requirements involved, leading to giant battery systems per vessel.
Despite high initial CAPEX and energy density limitations, what is clear is that marine battery systems will continue to add value to both the smallest recreational boats and the largest sea-going ships, either by facilitating the leap to pure zero emissions operation or by improving the fuel economy of engines, and even fuel cells, driving a hybrid market.
This research forms part of the broader electric vehicle and energy storage portfolio from IDTechEx, who track electric vehicle markets and technologies across land, sea and air, helping you navigate whatever may be ahead. Find out more at www.IDTechEx.com/Research/EV.