14/11/2022 – Maritime / Echandia / Sustainability / Electric / Tug / Port / Auckland / Salvage / Awards / LTO

All-electric ‘Sparky’, powered by Echandia, wins Tug of the Year Award
All-electric ‘Sparky’, powered by Echandia, wins Tug of the Year Award

The world’s first all-electric ship-handling tug, Sparky, has won the prestigious ‘Tug of the Year Award’ at the 2022 International Tug & Salvage Awards in Istanbul, Turkey. 


After partnering with Echandia in 2018 to build the world’s first electric ferry fleet, Damen Shipyards again collaborated with Echandia in 2020 to create another maritime landmark: The world’s first full-size, fully electric ship-handling tugboat. Dubbed ‘Sparky’, the innovative, all-electric tug has now been crowned ‘Tug of the Year’. 


The impressively powerful and emissions-free tug, which operates on Echandia’s LTO batteries, has a 70-ton bollard pull that will stack up with the performance of any conventional tug. 


A world first, powered by LTO batteries


Most ship-handling harbour tugs operate under harsh conditions and are set to take on heavy-duty jobs. Thus, tugboats running on lithium batteries might seem like an exceptionally difficult proposition. However, since August 2022, Sparky – the world’s first all-electric tug – has been operating New Zealand’s Ports of Auckland (POAL) on Echandia’s LTO batteries. Sparky can take on two to four assignments before recharging.


Now, Sparky has gained well-deserved recognition for its trailblazing qualities. At the 2022 Annual Tug & Salvage Awards, Sparky won the category ‘Tug of the Year’ despite being pitted against tough competition. The winners were announced at the ITS Awards show, in the presence of the industry community, where Sparky was recognised by shipyards, operators, and individuals as the new benchmark in tugboat operations.


Making port operations emissions-free


Electrifying port operations is key to lowering harmful emissions and increasing quality of life in harbours and densely populated areas. Ports of Auckland is a forerunner in such endeavours, and has set the target to become emissions-free by 2040. Given the size of the port’s operation, this is no small task. However, with Sparky this aim is not only feasible, but also economically viable. A single electric tug like Sparky can abate around 500 tons of CO2 per year with a running cost of less than a third of a diesel equivalent tug.  


A “ground-breaking achievement”


“We are extremely happy that the E-tug Sparky can show the way for other ports and operators, to become more efficient,” enthused Enchandia’s CEO Fredrik Hellström. “With this ground-breaking achievement, we now actually see a huge interest in making port operations emission-free with our battery systems.”


Sparky is a 25-metre-lomng vessel with a draft of six metres. It has a twin set of azimuth thrusters with a three-metre diameter. Powering the tugboat’s impressive performance is Echandia’s E-TUG, LTO-based battery system. The 2.8MWh battery system is especially well suited for high-power operations (10MW of peak-power, allowing for 70-ton bollard pull) and fast charging.


Echandia’s battery system has a lifetime equal to the 30-year planned lifetime of the vessel – making its total cost of ownership extremely low. The total cost of ownership will be equal to, or lower than, that of a diesel-powered tug.

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