Hybrid diesel engine/lithium-ion-battery system Rolls-Royce
A conceptual, hybrid diesel engine/lithium-ion-battery system for powering a tugboat.

Rolls-Royce Introduces LIB Hybrid Power for Ships

Modular, liquid-cooled battery system that can be scaled to vessels’ energy and power requirements, and complies with international regs for low- and zero-emission propulsion systems

Rolls-Royce is launching a lithium-ion-based energy-storage technique for ships, characterizing it as “a clean, safe and cost-efficient, complete system.” The engineering group has offered energy-storage systems since 2010, though the specific energy-storage package has been supplied by a subcontractor.

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are rechargeable units in which lithium ions migrate from the negative to the positive electrode during discharge, and then move back when charging.

“The electrification of ships is building momentum,” according to Andreas Seth, Rolls-Royce, EVP Electrical, Automation and Control - Commercial Marine. “From 2010, we have delivered battery systems representing about 15 MWh in total. However, now the potential deployment of our patent-pending SAVe Energy in 2019 alone is 10-18 MWh.”

The new offering is called "SAVe Energy," and is based on a modular, liquid-cooled battery system that can be scaled to energy and power requirements. SAVe Energy is compliant with international regulations for low- and zero-emission propulsion systems, Rolls-Royce noted.

Commercial fleet operators must observe numerous environmental restrictions, many of which affect the performance of diesel engines, widely used for freighters, cruise ships, ferries, and other commercial vessels. 

Previously, Rolls-Royce announced it is working with Hurtigruten, a Norwegian cruise ferry operator, to convert up to nine cruise ships from diesel to liquid natural-gas power, including addition of a hybrid battery system to store and supply power as available, and allowing Hurtigruten to project up to 25% reductions in CO2 emissions.

“Battery systems have become a key component of our power and propulsions systems, and SAVe Energy is being introduced on many of the projects we are currently working on,” Seth added. “This includes the upgrade program for Hurtigruten’s cruise ferries, the advanced fishing vessel recently ordered by Prestfjord and the ongoing retrofits of offshore support vessels.”

The possibility of supplementing diesel power with stored energy represents an important environmental improvement and “a major green investment” for ship owners, according to Rolls: “Returns are maximized when the system is correctly dimensioned for the specific ship, and includes intelligent power control,” it noted.

SAVe Energy will be supplied from Rolls-Royce Power Electric in Bergen, Norway.

The system was developed in part with funding provided by the Norwegian Research Council of Norway’s ENERGIX program. Three ship-owning companies (Color Line, Norled and the Norwegian Coastal Administration Shipping Co.) were partners in the development, which Rolls indicated will ensure that the energy-storage system covers a variety of marine applications, including ferries, cruise vessels, and multi-purpose vessels.

In July Rolls-Royce announced a $663-million sale of its Commercial Marine business, including the non-naval marine propulsion technologies, deck machinery, automation and control, and service network in more than 30 countries, plus ship design capability for offshore, cargo, passenger, and fishing vessel customers. That sale is part of the larger initiative to reorganize Rolls as a “simpler, leaner and more agile organization”, closer to customers and emphasizing new technologies.

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