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It is time to invest in hybrid tugs

Wed 19 Apr 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

It is time to invest in hybrid tugs

Asia is ready for hybrid and LNG-fuelled tugs. Editor, Martyn Wingrove, asks whether Asian tug operators are ready to invest in a new generation of vessels

It is time to construct hybrid-powered tugs for Asian port operations as authorities are eager to cut emissions. Tug owners should be looking to become the first-movers in using LNG-fuel and battery-power for a new generation of vessels.

The need for more environmentally-friendly tugs and port operations is a global requirement. But it seems Asian ports and maritime communities have made prominent moves to achieve these goals. Last week we heard Chinese ports have ordered lithium-ion energy storage systems for gantry cranes. These will reduce fuel consumption and emissions for port authorities.

It can be only a matter of time before these port authorities require tugs to be more environmentally friendly as well. Thus, we think it is time for owners to consider ordering hybrid tugs that have lower emissions and fuel consumption than competing ones. Perhaps it is also time to consider LNG-fuelled tugs.

Cosco Shipping could already be anticipating these moves as it is working with Wärtsilä on a concept design for an LNG operating fleet that includes a pusher tug and barges. It is not a great leap to go from concept designs to fully built LNG-fuelled or hybrid tugs.

Singapore is well ahead on LNG-fuelled tugs Keppel Offshore & Marine is building two dual-fuel tugs for Keppel Smit Towage and Maju Maritime. These are co-funded by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and due to enter service in the first quarter of 2018.

Asia is progressing in developing LNG-fuelled tugs and deploying hybrid power in ports. The stage is set for the early adopters of these technologies to order hybrid and gas-fuelled tugs for Asian operations.

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