The European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Program is funding a swappable container waterborne transport battery. Called Current Direct, this program plans to revolutionize the way goods are moved by water. Water transport in Europe is mostly done with diesel engines and Current Direct plans to solve this by cutting the cost of today’s marine battery-electric drivetrains in half. This will relieve shipowners from a hefty burden of capital expense while enabling the rapid adoption of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 482,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents annually.
Through its Energy as a Service platform, Current Direct will allow ship owners to participate in the shift to clean energy while creating new business opportunities for shipyards and local entrepreneurs. It’s doing this by changing the model for obtaining and storing energy aboard vessels and through this, will create a new energy economy. This will add thousands of new jobs.
Current Direct will also provide a vehicle for energy companies, institutional investors, and even government stakeholders to join in the green transformation of Europe’s merchant and passenger fleet. It’s doing this by uniting 13 partners across Europe’s marine electrification value chain. This project is led by Spear Power Systems, which makes some of the world’s lightest marine batteries, and flexible ones no less.
Blackstone Technology is joining this as well by lowering the cost of manufacturing 3D printed lithium-ion cells using active materials from Umicore. The University of Hasselt plans to develop physics-based models of the Current Direct cells. This will help to optimize the life and return on the investment of battery systems deployed across Europe as a part of Current Direct’s Energy as a Service platform, which is being developed by engineers and data scientists at Rhoé Urban Technologies and Aviloo.
Foreship, which specializes in naval architecture and depth knowledge of electricity markets, will help Current Direct’s platform target optimal vessels as well as locations while maximizing the reductions in emissions. Material science experts at VUB are creating low-cost composites to improve the safety of the battery packs designed for recyclability and these battery packs will include VITO’s smart cell monitoring electronics.
Wartsila — which has developed a wireless charging system for easy transfer of power from the shore to ship, replacing the traditional cable connection method — will develop modular battery containers and charging infrastructure. The latter will be certified to innovative standards by Lloyd’s Register.
The entire project will demonstrate the Current Direct battery, shore charging, and asset management platform by Kotug in Rotterdam. Current Direct extends an invitation to vessel operators, ports, shipyards, naval architects, energy companies, certification bodies, regulators, and investors with a focus on sustainability to join a series of virtual workshops to exchange ideas and learn about Current Direct.