JohnBike wrote:The referenced article contains not one word about how the batteries will be recharged, how long it will take, and what fuel source is used to generate the electric power for charging.
No, they didn't name the fuel source, but since they said it is in Norway, we can be assured the fuel source is almost completely hydropower. In 2013, Norway produced over 96% of their electricity through hydropower.
JohnBike wrote:If the loading and off-loading of the containers is as fast as on current container ships, recharging may be the main event keeping the vessel in port instead of under way.
I suspect you are correct that this ship will spent most of its time in port. But I doubt that is a concern on the factory end of this venture.
It seems clear from the article that the ship is being designed to carry approximately 60 containers daily from a port at the factory to the main shipping port. If they plan to do that in a single round trip each day, they could plan for two four-hour journeys, leaving 16 hours for recharging. I imagine the ship's batteries will need to be sized for the trip from the factory to the main port since that is the portion where it will be carrying a heavy load and therefore will be much lower in the water. But the batteries will need to receive enough charge at the main port for the return trip, even if they do not get fully recharged. Perhaps that means they will need to get a 50% charge in about two hours. That should be very doable. Then a full charge can be obtained once back at the factory port.
It appears from the animation that charge is being provided from overhead contacts on the ship.
JohnBike wrote:Your skepticism is well-founded. BTW, I started my career as a marine engineer. I hated taking on fuel because it invariably caused delays in departure after all cargo operations were complete, so the engineer on watch during fueling became the official grief target.
Can you tell us how long it should take to unload about 60 containers? Is it much less than two hours?
It seems clear that there must be a strong business case for this company to make such an investment. I seriously doubt that the fleet of trucks costs anywhere near as much as this ship, but certainly labor and fuel costs must be what drives this new idea. Perhaps government subsidies are also playing an important role.
But my skepticism lies in three main areas:
1) Schedule risk: I seriously doubt they can put such a ship in the water sometime next year unless it is already well on its way to completion.
2) Technical risk: While I realize that large ships have employed electric drive systems for decades, those ships are not powered by batteries. I don't know enough about shipboard propulsion to know how much energy must be stored for such a journey, but it must be a massive amount. Managing such a large battery will be no small undertaking.
3) Reliability: Replacing a fleet of trucks with a single ship means that any reliability problems with the ship will have a massive impact on the company's business ventures. I suspect the trucks will see quite a bit of use in the early years of operation of this vessel. I suspect reliability will eventually dictate the addition of at least a second ship. At that point, I wonder if the financial situation still works. Only time will tell.