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Power & Propulsion Alternatives for Ships

europort2017 payoff CMYK incl-date-NEW8 November 2017, Rotterdam   Call for Papers

RINA is a Europort Rotterdam Conference Partner


The current use of alternative fuels and renewable energy sources within the shipping industry is still relatively low. Growing environmental legislation and concerns are driving the need to develop and apply innovative alternative power and propulsion technology for ships. The industry must embrace the challenger of designing cleaner lower carbon emission ship. This conference seeks to investigate some of these alternatives, including;

  • Wind powered or wind assisted propulsion
  • Alternative fuel systems: LNG, methanol, hydrogen, etc
  • Renewable fuels; biofuels, ethanol, Dimethyl Ether (DME) algae-based fuel, etc
  • Pure electric and hybrid electric propulsion
  • Batteries and fuel cells
  • Solar power

Authors of selected papers will be invited to submit their paper for publication in the International Journal of Maritime Engineering.

Submit an Abstract or Register Your Interest

Click here to register your interest in Power & Propulsion Alternative for Ships conference and receive updates as they become available.

Click here to download the Call for Papers

If you wish to submit an abstract, please send a paper title, brief summary (no more than 250 words) of what the proposed paper would be about and your contact details via the link above, by email directly to  or fax to +44(0) 20 7259 5912. The deadline submission for abstracts is 5th May 2017.

Wind Powered or Wind Assisted

Merchant sailing ship technology reached its technical peak in 1840’s but even as recently as 1960s there were still large sailing cargo vessels operating efficiently around the European coast waters. There was renewed interest in wind powered ships in the 1980’s, due to the 1970’s oil crisis. Recently there has been a reintroduction of a few small scale commercial freight operations using sail power, although these are generally based on 19th century technology and run by keen enthusiasts.

Wind power alone is unlikely to be able to offer the “power density” necessary to replace a 50MW large 2 stroke marine diesel engine. There may also be issues with reliability and predictability of wind power on some of the more arduous trade routes. So wind power may not provide a universal solution for the shipping industry but it does seem to offer the greatest potential for double digit fuel saving. There have been numerous concept designs and even a few notable full scale prototype trials for wind powered and wind assisted motor vessels.  There are plenty of existing technologies including; Flettner rotors, WingSail, DynaRigs, kites, etc. The challenge may not necessarily be developing new technologies but evolving and adapting these existing technologies to overcome the shipping industries commercial, technical and regulatory challenges.

Alternative & renewable fuels

LNG is currently the most heavily promoted alternative fuel source but is still only used on a relatively small numbers of niche or specialised vessels. In March 2015, Stena Line launched the world’s first methanol powered ferry. The Kawasaki Heavy industry is designing liquid hydrogen carriers that will also use the hydrogen as fuel.

Sustainable or renewable biofuels are also currently used on a very small number of vessels. They are biodegradable, non-toxic, and essentially free of sulphur and aromatics. However, there can be issues with long term storage related to unstable fuel quality and micro biological growth, water content leading to acidity, flow degradation a low temperature and currently they have a higher production cost than fossil fuels. There is also the possibility of using blended diesel oil and biofuels.

Many of the engine manufactures are providing dual fuel technology, which can use both conventional and alternative fuels. All these fuels all have issues with bunker availability and lack of established wide spread distribution networks.

All electric and hybrid electric

Electric boats mainly for use on canal, river and lake were very popular from the 1880s and even today there are a number of commercially available electric powered leisure craft.  Ampere the world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has recently entered service in Norway. Build by Fjellstrand the ferry is 80 meters long and 20 meters wide and equipped by Siemens. With three battery packs, one on board and one at each pier, it functions emission free. These systems rely on either mains charged batteries, solar panels or wind turbines.

Diesel-electric propulsion is used on a number of different types of vessels that have large variable design loads such as warships, offshore, tugs, dredgers, icebreakers, etc. They can offer advantages of higher efficiency, reduced noise & vibration, greater redundancy and flexibility of layout but will have higher initial costs. Hybrid diesel-electric systems can offer efficiency improvement by running the engines on optimal load and absorbing many of the load fluctuations through batteries. The system is designed and integrated to optimise the overall operation of the vessel using battery power to help cover the vessels peak load or during specific parts of the vessels voyage. There is considerable ongoing research and development work being undertaken on battery technology.


There have been significant advances in terms of development of more effective lightweight solar panels suitable of the marine environment Combined solar power plus batteries have been used successfully for a number of small commercial vessels. However, solar panels alone are unable to provide the levels of energy need for the propulsion of a large ship. It can be used as an important alternative source for onboard electrical systems thereby helping to reduce the vessels overall fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.


Ahoy Congress Centre, Rotterdam

Sponsorship & Exhibitors

RINA events provide the perfect opportunity for effective and highly targeted marketing. Sponsorship  and exhibition  opportunities exist for all of our conferences. For more information please follow the link or contact John Payten (RINA Group Sales Director) Tel: +44(0)20 7235 4622 Ext 400 or e-mail:  to discuss tailored options or availability.

Continual Professional DevelopmentCPD logo

Attendance at the Power & Propulsion Alternative for Ships conference qualifies as Continuing Professional Development. Delegates to the conference will receive a CPD Certificate

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