I was part of the panel held by International Solar Alliance during the World Future Energy 2019 held at Abu Dhabi. It was an interesting session where I could talk about our experience of solar ferry, the differences with electric vehicles and technologies, and some of the challenges when we plan for more applications in marine industry.
Some of the points that were pointe out by me:
- Electric vehicles and boat application have some major differences. The time to escape in a boat is much higher than in an EV. Also boat operates for 8-10 hours daily user rugged, humid and salty conditions.
- Another related issue is that boats are less sensitive to weight since the batteries are typically 4-5% of boat weight whereas in case of EV the ratio can be 5 to 10 times higher.
- The above two reasons means that some lithium chemistry like NMC or NCA (Tesla) are not advisable for marine propulsion. LFP is the minimum standard expected, LTO is even better. The latter is a must have in application where one needs quick charging (up to 10C) and frequent charging (at every boat station).
- ADITYA, India’s first solar ferry, and its successful two year operation. 600,000 passengers, 40000 km without a single drop of fuel, 60000 litres of diesel saved translating to more than 150 tonnes of CO2. Three more boats, one bigger one, is under construction for the same client, eight for other clients.
- Key success of ADITYA was mentioned – weight reduction by haled, efficient hull that gives rag reduction to one-third, reliable and efficient UCVH (onboard computer), independent power train, battery and motor ventilation, cell level monitoring
- Economic feasibility is essential for it to work in Indian market. Although 20-30% higher CAPEX, because of the low OPEX the break even is in 3-4 years.
- To a question on future, I highlight the fact that humans are extremely irrational and we have poor assessment of future risks, an example seen outside smoking rooms in a cancer centre where nurses and doctors smoke. It is essential to factor this future cost of climate change and tax pollution to such an extent that greener technologies become attractive.