Singapore embarks on electrification of harborcraft

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) have awarded funding to three consortiums led by Keppel FELS Limited, SeaTech Solutions and Sembcorp Marine, and comprising a total of 30 enterprises and research institutions, to research, design, build and operate a fully electric harborcraft over the next five years. 

These electrification pilot projects will demonstrate both commercial and technical viability of specific use cases for full electric harborcraft and will support Singapore’s broader plans to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the maritime transport sector. 

Singapore has 1,600 licensed diesel-powered harborcraft that provide services such as the transport of personnel and supplies, to ships calling at the port. The funding for these projects will enable various technologies and charging infrastructures to be studied, test-bedded and deployed across different types of harborcraft and operating profiles, through use cases proposed by the consortiums. The use cases involve two passenger ferries of different capacities and a lighter craft. 

By bringing together industry and academia, innovative and commercially viable solutions can be developed to support the deployment of electric harborcraft in Singapore. Beyond the technologies and solutions, new business models will also be developed by the consortiums to enable wider adoption of electric harborcraft. 

MPA and SMI had launched the joint call for proposals on the electrification of harbourcraft in September 2020 after a series of workshops with the industry. The call for proposals drew strong interest from the maritime community with 73 maritime companies and 10 institutes of higher learning and research institutes submitting a total of 16 proposals. 

These proposals were evaluated based on their potential technical, operational and commercial viability, as well as strength of local capability development. The three selected proposals, adopting either new build or retrofit strategies, will tap on MPA’s Maritime GreenFuture Fund for the research, testing and piloting of low-carbon technologies. 

Senior Minister of State for Transport, Chee Hong Tat, said, “To build a sustainable hub port, we plan for the 1,600 harborcraft operating in our waters to run on low-carbon fuels.  One possible solution is the electrification of our harborcraft fleet, which reduces carbon emissions and has zero pollution.”

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