New Zealand’s leading port, Ports of Auckland, has welcomed an exciting addition to its fleet with the highly-anticipated arrival of the world’s first full-size, ship-handling electric tugboat. Named Sparky, the e-tug is part of an innovative project that no other port globally has previously embarked on.
By going electric, the Ports of Auckland expects Sparky to save approximately 465 tonnes of CO2 in diesel emissions annually. Also, the expected cost of operating the tug is less than a third of the cost of a diesel equivalent. Battery operated, the Sparky e-tug has a recharge time of approximately two hours and can run up to four shipping moves on one charge.
Built by the acclaimed Damen Shipyard, Sparky is the first of its RSD-E Tug series. It has a 6-meter draft, is 24.73 in length, and has two azimuth thrusters with 3-meter diameter propellers. Sparky boasts an impressive 70-tonne bollard pull, which is the same as the port’s strongest diesel tug, Hauraki.
The electric tugboat is powered by 80 battery racks holding 2,240 batteries, totaling 2,784 kWh of power, which helps it complete four shipping moves on a single charge. To ensure absolute safety – of utmost importance in shipping – Sparky also has two 1000kW backup generator sets, which will only be used in cases of emergency or some fault that is not part of business as usual. We expect to use them at most once or twice a year.
“Welcoming Sparky is an exciting day for us at the Ports of Auckland. Her arrival marks a big step towards the ports’ decarbonization of operations and towards our long-term emissions reduction goals,” said Roger Gray, CEO of Ports of Auckland.
“You’ll be able to spot Sparky on the water as her superstructure is painted bright green, unlike our diesel tugs,” Allan D’Souza, GM Marine and Multi Cargo at Ports of Auckland. “What you won’t notice is noise or smoke; being electric, she’s a lot quieter and cleaner than our current diesel tugs.”
There will be approximately six weeks of testing in Auckland before Sparky is fully commissioned and operational. E-tugs are the future of ship handling, and Ports of Auckland are proud to have led the way.