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Electric and Diesel – A Match Made in Heaven for the Commercial Operator

Courtesy of Power and Motoryacht

By George L. Petrie

Rising fuel costs are always a concern.  As a result, achieving improvements in fuel economy has become a high priority throughout the marine industry, as it has in many other segments of business. Engine manufacturers have risen to the challenge, delivering sophisticated new power plants that not only burn less fuel but also produce fewer emissions. However, the fact remains that diesel engines will generally run most efficiently when they’re operating near their full rated capacity.

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And that poses a problem for vessels in commercial service. For example, tugboats have big engines to develop lots of towing power but may spend much of their time operating at well below their maximum towing capacity. Or consider that crew and supply boats in the offshore industry must run at high speed to and from oil rigs that may be 100 miles or more from shore, where they then spend several hours idling alongside the rig while supplies and personnel are transferred. And last but not least, there are cruise ships, floating cities with power requirements that vary substantially, depending on whether the ship is in port or underway.

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