Hybrid powertrain improves tugboat economy and maneuverability

Tuesday, 6 June, 2017
Hybrid powertrain improves tugboat economy and maneuverability

With its hybrid powertrain, the Telstar tug reaches new heights of performance at the same time as delivering 20% savings in operating costs.

The Telstar is a new hybrid tugboat powered by VACON® drives, launched in October 2016. It operates up to ten times daily to tow ships within the piers in the port of Ijmuiden, the Netherlands. 

Telstar was built by Holland Shipyards and has the unique EDDY Tug design. This makes it easy to drive, easy to maintain and easy to move in any direction. EDDY Tugs are equipped as standard with a hybrid powertrain to minimize operational costs and realize savings. The powertrain consisting of electric, diesel or direct diesel-electric drive was chosen because its low power profile is well-suited to tugboat operating requirements.

VACON® drives optimize the hybrid propulsion
The propulsion operates with the aid of two identical azimuth propellers. A hybrid drive system using VACON® drives has improved maneuverability and economy. 

When running purely electric, the ship can perform a pull of 27 tonnes. With the main engines switched on, this performance rises to 75 tonnes, supplied by two Mitsubishi main diesel engines of 1450 kW each, and two electric motors.

Using only electric propulsion, the ship can travel at 10 knots (18.5 km/h), when combined with the main diesel engines the maximum speed increases to 13.5 knots (25 km/h). When running in electric mode, the vessel saves significantly on fuel costs. However, because the tug often requires peak power suddenly, the main engines are always ready on standby to supply power.

20% savings on operating costs
The Telstar captain Marcel Van Peenen works closely with his chief engineer Guy Knorr, who has spent five months in the shipyard and on simulators, and therefore quickly familiarized himself with the mechanical and electronic systems on board. Van Peenen continues to experiment with towing and pushing procedures on the Telstar, and concludes: “We have already achieved approx. 20% savings on operational cost due to reduced fuel cost and less expensive maintenance with longer intervals compared to traditional tugboats – and we expect that further cost reductions are possible.“

VACON® drives throughout 
Danfoss supplied VACON® drives not only for the Telstar propulsion system, but also for the winches and control unit for the engine room ventilation. According to chief engineer Guy Knorr, the use of VACON®drives throughout is an important advantage.

Why? He explains: “We only have one system to learn and we only need one brand of spare parts. The software is easy to carry about and if the display fails with one controller, I can enter commands or collect and transfer data at another controller”