Maritime safety, anticipation of potential risks of electric vehicles on ferries

30 January 2024

Development of electric vehicle technology is increasingly extending to the maritime transportation sector, especially in the context of ferry transportation. Although it contributes positively to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, electric vehicles using ferry services face several challenges.

According to Katadata, projections for electric car sales in Indonesia could reach 65,000 units by 2030. Indonesia, as a country with significant potential for electric car users, needs to prepare various anticipations to enhance maritime transportation safety due to the presence of electric car users utilizing ferry services.

Mitigating Risks of Electric Vehicles

The potential risks arising from this situation increasingly demand various parties to prepare strategies for prevention and anticipation, especially during specific moments when the number of ferry transportation users is high, such as during Eid al-Fitr and Christmas and New Year holidays. All stakeholders, including policymakers, ship owners, and service users, must be aware of this situation.

With the looming risk threats, there is still no explicit regulation governing the handling of electric vehicles on ships. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the global maritime authority has yet to issue regulations on this matter. Therefore, some organizations worldwide have issued guidelines for handling electric vehicles on ships, such as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and Japan’s Classification Society, ClassNK.

Keselamatan pelayaran, antisipasi potensi resiko kendaraan listrik di kapal penyeberangan

Keselamatan pelayaran kendaraan listrik (2024). Photo: Pranala Digital Transmaritim

The guidance provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) for handling electric vehicles on ships includes checking the ship’s load limits and stability, and operators must separate conventional vehicles from electric vehicles during loading for vehicle identification purposes. According to EMSA, by correctly identifying vehicles, all ship crew members should be vigilant and have access to information about the specific locations of electric vehicles according to the stowage plan.

On the other hand, from the classification perspective, ClassNK provides guidance such as assigning additional class notations for electric vehicles, identifying the locations of electric vehicles on the stowage plan for anticipation purposes, being able to perform extra firefighting for electric vehicles in case of fire, providing fire blankets for non-electric vehicles parked around electric vehicles, and providing battery cooling equipment for electric vehicles to prevent overheating, which can cause fires.

There are several optimal strategies that can be implemented to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of electric vehicles during ferry transportation.

1.    Battery System Monitoring:

Implementing real-time battery condition monitoring systems on ships can help optimize power management. By monitoring battery performance, ship operators can anticipate potential issues and take preventive actions. One preventive action that can be taken is ensuring that the vehicle battery level is less than 25% capacity before boarding the ship.

2.    Providing Understanding to Vehicle Owners:

Providing information to electric vehicle owners about usage procedures during ship journeys, such as keeping the battery level from being too high before boarding the ship, can help prevent fires and accidents while electric vehicles are on the ferry.

3.    Charging Technology at Origin and Destination Ports:

Developing charging technology at the origin and destination ports for ferry service users can provide extra convenience to electric vehicle owners. This is a follow-up to battery capacity monitoring, so ferry service users do not worry after arriving at their destination port as they can immediately use charging facilities.

Maritime transportation is an integral part of the global transportation system, and integrating electric vehicles with ferry transportation offers significant potential to reduce environmental impacts. Along with this potential, emerging risks also need to be anticipated with various preventive actions that can minimize the risks of ship accidents, thus continuing to improve maritime safety factors. By adopting optimal strategies, a conducive environment can be created to support sustainable maritime transportation growth. Collaboration between the shipping industry, electric vehicle manufacturers, and governments is key to achieving this goal.

Read this article in LinkedIn