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PBES: ‘Batteries are the new oil for ships’

Plan B Energy Storage (PBES), a marine energy solution provider, has been making efforts to make electric power a reality for more vessels with its latest CellSwap technology.

According to Brent Perry, CEO of PBES, the CellSwap is a revolutionary new solution for enhancing the lifetime benefits of marine battery systems. It is based on a new cost-effective method of retrofitting battery systems by replacing battery cells, while leaving the rest of the installation intact. The process, called ‘re-coring’, saves up to 60% of the costs of installing a new battery after a five-year cycle, based on a 60% reduction on the original cost paid by a ship owner/ operator for battery installation.

“The main concept of CellSwap is to make battery technology applicable to more vessels, by reducing lifecycle costs, allowing users to enjoy the benefits of smaller, more efficient systems and increasing the predictability of energy pricing,” Perry says.

Perry reckons CellSwap is a marine industry first that takes a “serviceable” approach to battery components.

“While conventional batteries have to be recycled in their entirety at the end of their lives, CellSwap enables battery cells to be replaced while almost all other components are preserved, including electric and cooling components, cell carriers and the master battery unit,” Perry says.

This year, PEBS has installed CellSwap-enabled batteries in 11 vessels including the world’s largest plug-in electric vehicle, a ferry located near Copenhagen, with nine more systems on order.

PEBS also recently launched two new types of battery – Power 65 and Energy 100 energy storage systems. Both systems share a common form factor and cycle lives. Perry says the systems are tailored towards different operating profiles and needs, and represent an important step in battery technology becoming more adaptable to the diverse needs of the global fleet.

Perry expects this number to rapidly increase in the coming years.

The company is currently building a new production line in Trondheim, a major maritime technology center in Norway, in order to meet future demand.

Talking about the challenges in the development of electric vessel systems, Perry reckons safety is obviously a major concern and hence one of the company’s main priorities, while the physical size of a battery system is another limiting factor in meeting the requirements for larger, deepsea vessels.

However, according to Perry, experts across all industries predict that the size of storage systems is likely to continue to decrease at the rate we’ve seen so far.

“This is why we’re not only focusing on creating systems that are as small and efficient as possible, but making it as easy as possible for vessels to benefit from future advances in technology,” Perry maintains.

Perry believes that battery power will become “the new oil”, and become applicable to vessels of any size in the future.

“Aside from the obvious benefits of reducing shipping’s impact on global warming, one of the main advantages of battery power is that it has the potential to make life much more predictable for the shipping industry. Currently, almost every element of shipping is at the mercy of fluctuations in oil prices, making it difficult to plan ahead for long term economic and environmental sustainability,” Perry says.

“Battery power has the potential to change this, and decouple shipping from vastly fluctuating oil prices,” Perry concludes.

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