CORDIS - EU research results

Green Marine Propulsion

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GMP (Green Marine Propulsion)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2017-07-31

Electrical engine systems (EPS) are crucially needed in the mature marine transportation market, currently dominated by diesel inboards/sterndrives and gasoline outboards not able to meet tomorrow´s demand from authorities and users. Therefore, Avant Marine aim to pursue this major business opportunity by addressing the following challenges within this project:

I. The largest drawback of present marine (combustion) motors is the immense use of fossil fuel due to climate reasons and global warming but for EU being a large oil-importing region, it is also important to decrease this dependency.
II. Despite the strengthening of European and international emission regulations, e.g. the revised Recreational Craft Directive 2013/53/EU and EPA standards in USA, combustion engines still emit a range of very harmful substances such as: Hydrocarbons, Nitrogen oxides, Carbon monoxide and Sulphur dioxide causing severe health and environmental disturbances. In addition, there is direct water pollution caused by lubrication, fuel spill, water emission and wreck leakages.
III. Investment and operational cost is a constant upsetting factor vessel owners. The trend-shift from ownership to chartering further underlines the importance of cutting expenses and increasing reliability due to commercial profit conditions. Current marine motors are expensive to buy and own with a high life-cycle cost, which is growing in parallel with ascending fuel prices. Furthermore, they require frequent maintenance (ascending complexity) and downtime for e.g. reliability issues, replacement of lubricants, filters and cooling fluids and winterization.
IV. Another disturbing issue for both passengers and wild-life is smell, noise and vibration, as it disturbs marine species who rely on smell/sound/vibration for their orientation, communication, and feeding. For passengers, noise and vibration is unpleasant, creates fatigue and above 85-90 db (not uncommon for outboards) even harmful. These factors decrease willingness of water-travel, which is desirable to increase transportation efficiency and ease congested road travel.

The overall objective of this project is to meet and exceed the demands described above by bringing an innovative EPS to the marine market in parallel with expanding the company to a global player together with supporting European partners. To achieve these objectives, the following key objectives will be accomplished during the Innovation project: 1) Industrialize the EPS design and prepare for a large-scale production. 2) Test, demonstrate and replicate in a fully operational environment to boost attention of potential customers/end-users, distributors and authorities. 3) Prepare and train the internal organization as well as the external (distribution and supply partners) to handle the huge effort and professionalism required to launch a product of this “calibre” successfully. The EPS will thereafter meet set specification according to technical, operational and economic parameters and be ready for launch.
We have executed a thoroughly feasibility project including the following tasks:
1) Elaborated the market strategy and business plan with key focus on target markets and customers, marketing mix, marketing activities, strengthening competitive advantages and reducing weaknesses. 2) Executed analysis and selection of distribution channels with the purpose of partnering with e.g. engine retailers and boat builders. 3) Analysed and mitigated business, project and technology risks. 4) Executed an analysis regarding own/external production as well as component/module supply to conclude an optimized strategy for large-scale production. 5) Identified internal organizational needs including competence related to launch and expansion. 6) Executed a Freedom to operate analysis, IP strategy (including future applications) and examined US/Global regulatory (EU accomplished). 7) Prepared the Innovation project (SME phase 2) roadmap with detailed planning, milestones, resources and cost.

The results of the feasibility have been very positive. After analysing the market, our main competitors, our capabilities and our needs, this feasibility study shows that there is a clear gap in the market for a commercially viable electric marine propulsion, system, especially for boats below 40 ft. Furthermore, the study shows that the cost of running an electric propulsion system is below the fossil fuel alternatives for boats with comparable small sizes.
The technology is becoming more cost effective or on par with its diesel counterparts and the price decrease promises to be significant (Moore's law) which will give the electrical propulsion system a definite advantage over traditional propulsion systems. The total boating market is not only growing in general but there is an ongoing change in attitude as well as in rules and regulations around the globe that favor environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fueled propulsion.
The success of the AVM business plan will also rely in no small part on working together with the right partners, subcontractors and area specialists. That is why much effort has been put into identifying potential subcontractors and tying strategic partners to AVM with letters of intent. The overall conclusion is therefore that the project is feasible and that the risks can be mitigated by carefully following the mitigation plan presented in this document.

Dissemination and results have been presented on a suitable scale with focus on Marine forums.
The main results of this innovation will come after the innovation project and launch of EPS.

There is a world-wide need to address current and future water transportation challenges. Water covers approximate 70% of the world’s surface; an environment widely used and suitable for mobility but as well a sensitive environment already damaged by pollution and global warming. More efficient transportation is called for in e.g. EU´s transport policy describing the need of clean and efficient travel where EPS can contribute, for both passengers and goods including both maritime and inland waterways. There are even European directives in this area as well as promotion in the Platina 2 EU Coordination Action supporting inland waterways to be a more sustainable and competitive part of EU´s transport network which is exactly what the GMP project will do by providing green power and attention. Initiatives in this field are numerous showing the importance of sustainability where mobility is one factor. Additions to the above are: Paris Agreement; European strategy for low-emission mobility; UN sustainable development goals that includes clean transportation.

Avant will use its key strengths to facilitate for the marine transportation sector to switch from diesel/gasoline to electrical engines. This is expected to be further boosted by stricter authority policies, directives and financial stimuli, raising climate concern, increasing fuel prices as well as the demand of more comfortable boating. Avant will offer a complete integrated propulsion system addressing mentioned challenges by e.g.

I. Reducing fuel consumption and oil import substantially and thereby the greenhouse effect by every new purchase or replacement from combustion to electrical propulsion, including EPS high energy efficiency also reducing the need of electrical power production.
II. Eliminating dirty emission and water pollution as this electrical system emits no residues, resulting in an outstanding environmental friendly product especially suited for urban waterways and sensitive nature areas.
III. Reduce investment and life-cycle cost. Avant will spend a large effort on their EPS design to be a) Easy and fast to supply, produce and assemble for a low price; b) Reliable and maintenance-friendly (electrical systems are as well per default less complex than combustion) to increase meantime between failure and downtime; c) Energy-efficient with smart monitoring and optimized as a system including eco-charging to decrease transport cost; d) long-lasting with extended service life decreasing investment cost/hour.
IV. Significantly depressing noise, smell and vibration (e.g. from avoiding combustion and optimized bearings) that will make water transportation with both outboards and inboards to a pleasure instead of discomfort which also can promote swopping from road to water transportation when possible. Sea animals will benefit as well by having their habits/milieu less disturbed.

Thus, this project includes important and needed mechanisms to solve many of the current problems within marine transportation and recreation.