Wärtsilä, EBDG Collaborate On CHAMP Barge Design

Wärtsilä, the Finnish-based marine propulsion manufacturer and energy provider, is partnering with Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG), a Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering firm, to develop a floating mobile power platform that will allow ports and terminals to power docked ships while also reducing emissions.

The partnership will build on EBDG’s Clean Harbor Alternative Mobile Power (CHAMP) barge design and will feature Wärtsilä’s existing methanol engine technology, namely the Wärtsilä 32 methanol engine. Besides the engine, which will generate electricity for supplying electricity to ships, the CHAMP barge will be equipped with Wärtsilä’s methanol fuel-handling system, called MethanolPAC, and Wärtsilä’s emissions after-treatment system, NOx Reducer.

Essentially, rather than a ship’s generators running on “shore power” from the power grid going to a ship in dock, the CHAMP barge will supply the electricity through cleaner-burning, methanol-fueled generators.

“Wärtsilä’s experience with methanol-fueled marine engines is unmatched, and we continue to develop future-fuel capabilities to accelerate the decarbonization of maritime operations,” said Joel Thigpen, general manager of new builds for Wärtsilä Marine. “This collaboration with Elliott Bay Design Group demonstrates both companies’ commitment to providing practical and sustainable solutions for the maritime industry.”

The CHAMP barge will have a power range from 6 megawatts to 16 megawatts and will reduce port emissions by enabling “cold ironing” for vessels for two weeks or more before the barge will need to be refueled.

“We are pleased to partner with Wärtsilä in bringing this innovative patent-pending solution to the market,” said Mike Complita, EBDG principal in charge and vice president for strategic expansion. “The CHAMP barge project represents a significant stride toward tackling the most daunting challenges in curbing port emissions, all while offering the adaptability of multi-megawatt power solutions.”

Complita said, while the application for the CHAMP barge is new and timely, there’s a familiarity to it as well.

“The barge platform is essentially a conventional small double-skin tank barge,” Complita said. “The power-generating system is somewhat more complete but still essentially a big generator and a set of switchgear.”

EBDG and Wärtsilä are currentlyengaged with the Coast Guard on the overall design and certification process for the barge. Complita said he’s confident the design will be of interest for ports and ship owners alike.

“We are developing the design ahead of a specific buyer and are actively engaged in discussion with a number of ports, operators and energy suppliers around the nation,” he said. “We anticipate construction of the first unit will likely be on the West Coast and will begin within the next 18 to 24 months.”

“Our CHAMP program will use methanol as its own fuel source to generate multi-megawatt level power and will supply that power ship-to-ship, away from and/or at the dock,” Complita said. “CHAMP does not transfer methanol fuel, only electricity.”

A strength of the CHAMP barge design is that it will not have to be moored or otherwise tethered to the shore, meaning only the barge will need Coast Guard certification. No shoreside permits or infrastructure will be required.

The CHAMP barge isn’t the only EBDG barge design that’s made waves of late. Elliott Bay is also the design partner with the Port of South Louisiana on a barge that will supply methanol to vessels in and around the port that use methanol as their primary fuel source, whether burning methanol or converting it to hydrogen to charge fuel cells.