ZEMAPHOR: Moving shipping towards low-emission solutions (ZEM – NORWAY)

Context of Transport Climate Action

ZEMAPHOR is an initiative by Norwegian battery systems developer ZEM started in 2010. Its objective was to better understand how Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries can be adapted to applications outside the traditional automotive focus. The ZEMAPHOR project has resulted in helping the shipping industry to focus on climate emissions faster and on a much larger scale. It has allowed partners ZEM, in close cooperation with DNV GL (Det Norske Veritas-Germanische Lloyd), to become a change maker for the offshore and shipping industry.

The goal is to get 25% of all ships to include hybrid and full-battery solutions by 2020

The next phase of ZEMAPHOR is to try to expand it to cover many different battery-types and applications, accelerating the introduction of hybrid solution to offshore service vessels, bulk carriers and ferries across the world.


Li-lon batteries have proved to work in the automotive industry, and increasingly also in grid-related storage applications. This has lead to a strong development of performance and reduction of prices, as the automotive market and energy storage demand grows. It has also opened up the potential of using Li Ion batteries in completely different segments of the market; such as international shipping and the offshore industry, both are major emitters of climate gases (Greenhouse Gases – GHG).

However, the demands on batteries in the maritime sector is very different from the automotive sector or grid storage applications. A battery in a car allows it to travel for a long distance, i.e. its functionality focuses on storing as much energy as possible in a small space, with an occasional peak performance while driving. The grid-related storage of energy from wind and solar equally require large energy storage capacity, or are used as buffer for stabilizing the grid in peak capacity periods.

Maritime applications require much more energy to be made available for shorter periods of time: a car-ferry crossing a fjord, has to be charged within minutes while unloading and loading; and that is repeated 20 hours a day, seven days a week, for its lifetime of 10 years or more.

An offshore supply vessel may need to keep its position in heavy weather far away from land, requiring very fast and reliable peak energy within seconds to keep its position accurate (to a meter) even in choppy seas A large drilling vessel has to keep hundreds of tons of equipment fixed in relation to the seafloor, requiring several megawatts of energy to compensate for the sea’s heaves and swells every 7 seconds. Now in some cases certain Li Ion battery can provide the power for such enormous peaks when the vessel is slightly lifted by a wave, and are able to recuperate nearly all the same energy while the vessel follows the lowering wave seconds later.

The ZEMAPHOR project was launched in order to be able to simulate and calculate what batteries can do for such applications, including: how large the battery has to be designed to respond to these needs, how it would degrade over the years of operations, what specific cell chemistry are optimal for each application, and what type of cooling would be needed to make this possible for ten or more years.

The results of the ZEMAPHOR and similar simulation systems has allowed ZEM and DNVGL to work with a growing number of ship-owners and yards on how best to consider and implement battery-hybrid solutions – this is seen as a beginning of a ‘green shift’ in the maritime sector.


Offshore Service Vessels

In 2011, DNV-GL led the pioneering FellowSHIP program, backed by the Norwegian Research Council, to evaluate and implement a first battery installation on an actual operating offshore supply vessel, the Viking Lady. The impressive fuel and emissions savings DNV GL could document helped to convince the ship-owner Eidesvik to contract ZEM to make the first fully commercial implementation of such a battery system for its sister ship, the Viking Queen, in 2015.

It was shown that the battery configuration could help manage energy use. For instance, when the ship has different load – it normally has two generator sets running at low load settings. A second generator is needed to run just to quickly be able to provide additional power. By adding a battery, you can shut off one generator set and allow the battery to take the surges while the other generator set runs at higher and more efficient load. Different settings are also needed when in transit or using dynamic positioning.

Adding a battery means that you can alternate between running the generator set at much higher load to power the ship and recharge the battery, and then turn it off and run for an extended time on batteries only.

DNV-GL analyzed data from actual ship operations with and without batteries. The measured results showed actual average fuel savings of more than 15%, and savings of up to 25% for certain operational modes – very much in line with theoretical models.

ZEM installed a 650 kWh battery system on the Viking Queen in November 2015. Its configu-ration, layout, and cooling were all dimensioned with the help of the ZEMAPHOR models.


The energy storage system installed has a capacity of 650kWH and can supply up to 1600kW. The solution gives an estimated fuel saving of approximately 18% for the vessel and NOx and Greenhouse Gas (CO2e) emission reductions by around 25%.

Applications to Cruise and Tourism Vessels

The ZEMAPHOR model has also been critical to help shipping companies in other maritime segments to look into using Lithium-Ion batteries and implement Greenhouse Gas reducing solutions. One interesting solution is the first tourist-vessel that provides an emission free sightseeing tour of the most significant natural sights in the Norwegian fjords. This is a win-win solution as it combines tourism and environmental protection, which is generating the tourism in the first place.

ZEM used its modeling tools to configure and optimized a battery-hybrid solution for the sightseeing vessel SEASIGHT, a 40-meter long and 15-meter wide vessel built in carbon fiber.
The hybrid electric vessel has two generators that allow the vessel to have a top speed of 20 knots for longer distances and can travel emission free at 8 knots when in the Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a battery pack of more than 500 kWh, this unique tourist vessel can glide silently and emission-free with up to 450 passengers through the unique fjord landscapes of the Nærøyfjord, Geirangerfjord, and Lysefjord



Implementing battery-hybrid solutions for offshore supply vessels (OSVs) generate fuel savings of 15%- 25%, depending on what type of operations the OSV are performing. As a result, this also delivers major reductions in GHG emissions. On average, during the monthly operations of a vessel such as the Viking Queen, with a capacity of 650kWH (supplying up to 1600kW of electricity), the installed battery hybrid solution gives a fuel saving of approximately 18% and NOx and CO2e (GHG) emission levels reductions of around 25%.

In some case this can be more and experiences from and calculations for tugboats indicate that the average fuel savings are up to 30%, and installing hybrid cranes on bulk carriers also generate 25-30% fuel savings and the equivalent GHG emission reductions

Electric ferries are a new market for hybrid and battery systems. The battery ferry AMPERE started its operations in early 2015 and can carry 120 cars and 360 passengers across the Sognefjord.



Potential for scaling up

Maritime transport emits around 1000 million tonnes of CO2 annually, and is responsible for about 2,5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (3rd IMO GHG study).

Shipping emissions are predicted to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050, depending on future economic and energy developments.

Ship’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions could be reduced by up to 75% among other by implementing new technologies.

Certain vessels are well suited for implementing battery and hybrid solutions. Globally, here are today 3500 offshore supply vessels, 2000 bulk carriers with cranes, 1400 drill ships and more than 1100 ferries that may reduce their GHG emissions by introducing battery and hybrid technologies.

Using the ZEMAPHOR simulation models for evaluating the environmental and economic benefits from implementing battery-\ systems may have a major impact and help raise the awareness of the climate impact of new technologies.

In Norway alone, the impact of converting ferries to electric or hybrid operations will have major climate effects. The total emission from the 180 ferries operating in Norwegian waters is estimated to be around 400’000 tons of CO2 annually. In a study jointly released by the environmental group Bellona and Siemens in 2015, 127 of these 180 ferries can be replaced by battery – or hybrid ferries, which would reduce the emission by 75%.

Selected references

www.zem.com; www.dnvgl.com



Oslo/ Bærum. Norway




ongoing and expanding


Europe, Mitigation, Shipping, Technology




Jan-Olaf Willums, ZEM AS willums@zemenergy.com

“We are also happy to see that together we are able to find solutions giving cost reductions and profitability to all parties involved, and also significant environmental gains”
Jan Fredrik Meling
CEO of Eidesvik

” Advanced Li Ion batteries make the savings possible: In various operational modes, one or more gensets are running at very low load, which is very inefficient per kW of power delivered. The battery allows the gensets to run at higher load for shorter periods of time and thus generate fuel savings, as well as a reduction in maintenance costs.”
Bjorn Johan Vartdal, Principal Researcher, DNV GL

“This is a breakthrough for us, with a new and innovative design. It is exiting to use our competence of making energy efficient fast-going catamarans to build environmentally friendly vessels for slow speed “
Tor Øyvind Aa Managing Director, Aa Brothers Shipyard.