SEAM’s hybrid battery installations enable diesel engines to function up to 20 per cent more efficiently, thereby reducing operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Diesel engines, the standard method of propulsion for merchant ships, contribute heavily to greenhouse gas emissions. Thermal efficiency for these engines can be as low as 50 per cent, resulting in unnecessary use of fossil fuels and polluting emissions.
Electric and hybrid ship propulsion systems are a promising solution, but until recently the batteries have been weighty, with limited capacity.
SEAM uses high-tech battery systems and expert installation strategies to speed up return on investment. Each installation is customised to provide for a vessel’s specific power requirements. This results in higher energy efficiency, lower fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs – as well as a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The company begins with an assessment of a vessel’s existing engine configuration, or a strategy for a new build. Batteries and an electronic control centre are installed to work alone or in conjunction with diesel engines. In a hybrid solution, the batteries provide power when energy demands are lower, and increase redundancy to compensate for engine downtime.
SEAM focuses on innovation and technology development and has developed its own automation platform, e-SEAMatic®. e-SEAMatic® BLUE is the signature brand name for its solutions.
Shipping companies must comply with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) targets to reduce CO₂ emissions from international shipping by at least 50 per cent, as well as with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Hybrid technology assists compliance, while supplying the vessel’s propulsion needs under variable conditions.
In a hybrid solution, ship batteries have a peak shaving effect, where the battery equalises the load on the engines. This reduces pressure on the machinery, and thus lowers maintenance costs. The batteries also provide backup power for vessels using dynamic positioning (DP), reducing energy consumption from reserve engines.
In 2016 SEAM delivered the world’s first battery hybrid system to the offshore vessel Viking Energy. Two years later the vessel has achieved an impressive 30 per cent reduction in consumption and emissions when operating in DP mode.
Due to the environmental and cost benefits of electric and hybrid solutions, ship propulsion is becoming steadily greener. The process is accelerating as new environmental regulations for ocean vessels are put into place. The Norwegian government, for example, requires all ferries along its coastline to be electrified by 2030.
SEAM was known as Westcon Power & Automation until 2021. Westcon was founded in Norway in 1988 and began developing energy storage solutions in 2013. The company delivered the power and automation systems for the zero-emission sightseeing boat Future of the Fjords, which was awarded 2018 “Ship of the Year” at SMM.
SEAM has a number of other electric, hybrid and hydrogen-based projects underway, including power systems for zero-emission hydrogen fast ferries.