Energy Transition Inland Shipping Shipbuilding

Hidrovias do Brasil orders pair of Robert Allan-designed diesel battery hybrid pushers at Belov Engenharia

First newbuilding to be delivered in 2022 for north corridor operation

Hidrovias do Brasil S.A. (B3:HBSA3) placed an order for two diesel battery hybrid terminal assistance pushboats at Brazilian shipyard Belov Engenharia.

The inland navigation vessels were designed by Canada’s Robert Allan Ltd. and will be classed by Norway’s DNV.

Belov Engenharia Shipyard in Salvador, Northeast Brazil, is a newcomer in the local shipbuilding market, but established itself after delivering two DP2 Dive Support Vessels (DSV) for an affiliate company. The Belov Amaralina and Belov Humaita, both built in 2020, were also designed by Robert Allan Ltd.

The main design innovation of the new pushers is that they will be able to operate using 100% electric energy when operating in lower power modes, similarly to plug-in hybrid vehicles. Shore power will be provided in HBSA’s terminals for charging the vessels.

Pedro Ventura, Robert Allan’s Director of Business Development for Latin America commented, “the (diesel) gensets are there as a backup and for longer voyages, if necessary. In the day-to-day terminal operations, like barge maneuvering, the pushers will operate with batteries alone”.

Image credit: Robert Allan Ltd.

Smaller pushers such as these are used mainly near a land base in tasks such as barge convoy assembly and disassembly or loading and discharging of individual barges. They also commonly remain attached to large convoys while moored to buoys as a safety measure. For these types of operations, electric propulsion is expected to be a perfect fit.

The inland shipping pair will provide HBSA with significant emission reductions, estimated at up to 2,170 tonnes of CO2 per year, when compared to conventional vessels. Delivery of the first unit is expected in 2022.

The vessels are expected to be the world’s first battery electric shallow draft pushboats when they begin operating in the north corridor, the term the shipowner uses for its operations in the Amazon River system.

The new pushers are of the RApide 2000-E design, fitted with a DC grid diesel-battery electric propulsion system, two diesel generators, a large battery bank (600 kWh initial installation, with capability to scale up to 1800 kWh), and two L-Drive units, each with an input power of 350 kW.

The particulars of the RApide 2000-E are as follows:

Length overall: 20.4 m

Beam, moulded: 10.0 m

Depth, moulded: 3.2 m

Minimum operating draft: 2.2 m

Normal operating draft: 2.5 m

Image credit: Robert Allan Ltd.

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