Alternative Energy for Ocean Vessels: A Chicken or the Egg Problem We’ve Solved Before

Boat wake in ocean

In 2010, the first Nissan Leaf all-electric vehicle (EV) were sold in the United States. Norwegian automaker Think sold 632 of its City EVs to become the top selling model in Europe. It marked the start of a renewed push by major auto manufacturers and startups alike to spark an EV revolution. 

Back then, cynics focused much of their attention on “range anxiety.” Sure, the LEAF can get you to and from work on a single home charge, but what if you wanted to run errands or go on a road trip? There were no (or very few) EV charging stations. What were drivers to do if they ever needed a boost away from home? 

It was a classic chicken or the egg problem for business. 

Fast forward a decade and we have plenty of chickens and eggs. In the U.S., there are nearly 2 million EVs the road with more than 63,000 public charging stations in operation. Tesla’s Supercharger network can get Tesla drivers from coast to coast. Europe broke one million EVs sold in a year for the first time in 2020, becoming the world’s largest market for annual EV sales. EV chargers have proliferated at employer offices, retail centers and parking garages from North America to Europe to China. 

What does all of this have to do with C-Power? Well, the ocean in 2021 looks a lot like roads and highways in 2010.  

Alternative Fuel Maritime Vessels Are Ready, They Just Need the Charging Network 

Let’s call it the chicken or egg of the sea problem. 

The technology for electric- and fuel cell-powered shipping, fishing, military and research vessels is ready to go. It has superior potential for the maritime economy compared to conventional diesel-powered vessels across many metrics—fuel cost, maintenance cost, climate impact, the list goes on.  

But the ocean is an energy desert, and these vessels need a charging network. 

C-Power is one of the key players in a race to build that network. Our autonomous offshore power systems (AOPS) can provide an affordable, easy-to-deploy-and-maintain grid of charging stations for anything from shipping vessels with known shipping routes to military vessels that need to roam vast stretches on lengthy deployments.  

And with “Power-to-X” capabilities, a C-Power AOPS is a solution for vessels powered by any kind of alternative energy source. 

  • Electric vessels: An AOPS converts wave energy into electricity stored in an electric battery storage system, which is held until an electric vessel needs a charge. 
  • Hydrogen fuel cell vessels: The AOPS wave energy converter produces the electricity needed to power the electrolysis process that produces green hydrogen, which will be stored in a device such as Teledyne Energy Systems’ Subsea Supercharger. The Subsea Supercharger then has a renewable supply of green hydrogen to disburse to fuel cell-powered surface vessels and subsea vehicles. 
  • Emerging fuel cell technologies: Hydrogen is the leading “fuel” for fuel cell systems today, but ammonia fuel cells and other technologies are emerging. With its “Power-to-X” capability, the AOPS can serve as the missing piece of the puzzle to make charging stations using these fuel sources feasible on the ocean. 

Simply put, C-Power’s AOPS are the solution to ocean-going alternative fuel vessel range anxiety.  

If the maritime transportation sector follows a similar path to land-based transportation (and we think it will), we have a very exciting decade of innovation and energy transformation ahead. 

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