EBDG and Wärtsilä Team Up on Methanol-Fueled Power Barge

Illustration courtesy EBDG

Published Mar 5, 2024 11:25 PM by The Maritime Executive


Seattle-based naval architecture firm Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) has reached an agreement with Wärtsilä to develop a barge-mounted cold ironing system that runs on methanol. The announcement confirms an arrangement the firms reached late last year. 

EBDG's Clean Harbor Alternative Mobile Power (CHAMP) system is designed to provide auxiliary power in port, without grid infrastructure. The CHAMP barge runs with a clean-burning methanol-powered engine, and can provide offboard electricity where conventional shore power is not available. This allows the vessel to shut down its auxiliary engines and reduce in-port emissions. 

For the port and surrounding community, this is an advantage from an air quality standpoint, but also alleviates pressure on the local electrical grid. Merchant ships can draw megawatt-scale loads, and delivering that much power often requires costly grid improvements. 

“We are pleased to partner with Wärtsilä in bringing this innovative patent-pending solution to the market. The CHAMP barge project represents a significant stride toward tackling the most daunting challenges in curbing port emissions,” says Mike Complita, Principal in Charge at EBDG.

CHAMP will use a Wärtsilä 32 engine adapted to run on methanol, along with Wärtsilä exhaust treatment and fuel-handling systems. It will be able to provide 6-16 MW of power, and will be able to meet ships wherever they are in the harbor - whether alongside the pier or at anchor. EBDG envisions a second role for the barge as a recharging station for battery-electric harbor vessels, like tugs and small workboats. 

For the operator, a floating power supply offers compliance advantages: it falls under U.S. Coast Guard regulations, and does not need the permitting process required for shoreside facilities. It is also designed to be compact - just 225 feet long - in order to fit well into the harbor operations of America's busiest ports.