(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) The European Green Deal and the IMO initial and up-coming mid- and long-term Strategies for Greenhouse Gas reduction have sparked the development and implementation of technical solutions aiming at reducing the GHG emissions from shipping. The use of alternative zero carbon and sustainable fuels is increasing, as are solutions based on energy stored in batteries.
Electrification brings advantages for the sector not only in terms of sustainability, by reducing emissions and energy consumption, but also in design and operations, reducing maintenance and allowing for more flexibility in the powertrain arrangements on board.
Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) installations on board ships have been increasing in number and installed power as the battery technology also develops. According to the Alternative Fuels Insight platform, there are more than 800 battery ships in operation, a figure that has more than tripled in the past five years. Out of those, around 60% are known to be operating in Europe, using batteries on board for propulsion either in pure electric or hybrid functions. At least 50% are hybrid or plug-in hybrid, and around 13% are pure electric.
The current low energy density of the available energy storage systems makes them a preferred option for shortdistance voyages or services that require low-autonomy. For this reason, the ship record shows that the largest number of installations are in car and passenger ferries and ships dedicated to other activities than deep-sea commercial cargo transport. Rapid technological development requires the implementation of technologies being made in a safe and uniform way across the sector based on well understood, simple and solid safety guidance.
At the moment, there is no regulatory instrument at international level on the safety aspects of using batteries in ships. This important scope has been left to and evolved through the requirements of class, industry standards and codes with limited requirements and experience from the side of flag states. EMSA with the support of the European Commission, the Member States and the industry has drawn-up this nonmandatory Guidance to guide national administrations and industry, and which aims at a uniform implementation of the essential safety requirements for battery energy storage systems on board of ships.
The IMO GENERIC GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPING IMO GOAL-BASED STANDARDS MSC.1/Circ.1394/Rev.2 were taken as the basis for drawing-up this Guidance. Lithium-ion batteries are currently the most popular choice for ship operators. The main risks associated with this type of battery are fire and explosion due to thermal runaway and off-gas generation. Based on available literature shared by the group of experts and previous EMSA studies1, functional requirements were developed using li-ion technology as a reference in view of the mitigation of the risks from design, installation, and operation of these systems.
This Guidance is structured as follows:
Chapter 1 outlines the goals and functional requirements for the main components of the battery energy storage system.
Chapter 2 deals with the goals and functional requirements of the system's arrangement across the different configurations and functions that the battery might have on board. Furthermore,
Chapter 3 contains testing standards and procedures for maritime batteries and their installation.
Chapter 4 includes operational, including maintenance, and training procedures and recommendations and is complemented by Annex B with a guidance for qualification of officers.
Chapter 5 contains additional provisions by mode of operation of the battery system.
Finally, Chapter 6 includes a generic safety assessment methodology for the cases for which this Guidance is not able to provide relevant technical provisions. For reference, Annex A includes a list of lithium-ion cell chemistries and expected off-gases.
This non-mandatory Guidance refers to all ships engaged in international or domestic voyages, irrespective of their material of construction, for which a battery energy storage system based on lithium-ion technologies serves any of the following functions or their combination: main propulsion, auxiliary services, emergency propulsion, emergency services and/or other ancillary services.
For more info, you can download the EMSA Guidance on the Safety of Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) on board ships, below: