The Covid-19 pandemic has imposed significant changes in the way companies around the world perform, forcing them to adopt new operational practices quickly. The maritime sector is no different and maritime companies have had to re-evaluate their supply chain management and logistics because of shipping and clearing delays. Extended lead times on engines due to the microchip shortages and other manufacturing delays due to raw material shortages have only exacerbated these challenges further.

At Southern Power, we are doing the same and are charting our course in response to the key trends shaping the maritime sector in 2022. These are:

  1. E-mobility
    If 2021 had one major effect on the maritime industry it was that it accelerated the pace of digital technology innovation and adoption. At Southern Power, we have noticed a growing demand for the electrification of marine propulsion. “There is a need for companies to innovate, deliver value to customers, and work towards a future with zero emissions propulsion systems’. DEUTZ subsidiary Torqeedo, a global market leader for electric mobility on water and an OEM of Southern Power, has entered into a partnership with the international technology group ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Torqeedo will integrate ZF’s innovative steerable pod propulsion (SPP) into its successful ‘Deep-Blue’ drive systems. This partnership gives Torqeedo a strong technological USP in the 50 and 100 kW power output range.
  2. Innovation through collaboration
    The maritime industry pushed back against Covid-19’s disruption last year as we saw new collaborations between key marine OEMs and ancillary electric drive suppliers. There have even been a few acquisitions in this space, which we’re watching with keen interest. These collaborations accelerate the development of competitive and innovative technologies to develop cleaner and more efficient vessels and vehicles, along with the related energy infrastructure.
  3. Lithium batteries
    We are seeing an increase in marine OEM investment in lithium battery technology. Deutz, the German engine maker that owns one of the brands we distribute, Torqeedo, recently announced the addition of a battery specialist to its ranks, saying:“Futavis has extensive technical expertise in electronics, software, battery technology, and battery testing, and specifically in ensuring functional safety. The systems knowledge of Deutz subsidiary Torqeedo in electric drives will now be complemented by high-voltage battery technology.” Southern Power foresees future Torqueedo products being optimised  by matching their own battery technology to the motors to further enhance range and performance and cost per kw/hour. As a part of the Volvo Group’s great electromobility initiatives, last year they announced a new acquisition of ZEM – a company with 12 years of market experience as a supplier of both marine battery systems and complete electric drivelines and a strong track record in Norway, the most mature marine e-mobility market in the world.
  4. Alternative fuels
    Looking ahead, we also see increased investment in hydrogen power, as an alternative clean energy source. Now more than ever, people are looking for ways to leverage renewable energy for a flexible, low-carbon power supply. Hydrogen fuel cell technology enables zero-emissions power suitable for vocational applications, regional haul, urban deliveries, port drayage, and terminal container handling. Companies such as Cummins have acquired companies like Hydrogenics because of the promise hydrogen holds for the green tech sector. Hydrogenics designs and manufactures fully electrical and hybrid powertrain systems, along with innovative components and subsystems to serve commercial markets as they increasingly adopt electrification.
  5. ““You’re going to need a bigger boat”
    The private catamaran market is booming and there appears to be a move to increasingly bigger boats, year on year. Covid-19 did not after all trigger the expected downturn yacht brokers expected, in fact, quite the opposite; perhaps because the era of “social distancing” motivated people to invest in all manner of outdoor activities – road trips, hiking, biking, camping, and yachting – to help them cope and pass the time. The open ocean provided the ultimate low-risk getaway. People who could afford it chartered boats and so a new love of yachting was born. With this recreational boating boom, boat brokers and boat builders aren’t the only ones thriving. Mechanics, parts suppliers, and service companies like ours are also benefiting from this sudden surge of interest.
  6. All hands on deck
    Finally, due to this increased demand in large marine vessels, local catamaran manufacturers and boat builders are exponentially increasing their build volumes for 2022. The demand isn’t expected to ease any time soon. Globally, the yacht market is forecast to hit $8.5 billion in value this year, up from $8.15 billion in 2020, and is estimated to reach $12.16 billion by 2028, according to market research firm Grand View Research.

The future of the marine industry

Maritime trade has performed better than expected, partly because the Covid-19 pandemic has unfolded in phases and at different speeds, with variable developments across different regions and markets. While we expect supply chain challenges to continue this year, we remain confident that with close customer collaboration, difficulties can be mitigated. The sense within key OEMs, such as Volvo Penta, is that the supply chain bottlenecks are already starting to improve and should be largely resolved by July or August this year.

Southern Power’s, Jacques Brümmer, is driving the vision of climate-neutral marine mobility and envisions this as the future of the marine industry. “I believe that the key strategic direction in the marine space is driving towards hybrid and electric propulsion. For the next 10-15 years, fossil fuels will still dominate the sector, but we will see a huge amount of investment, focus, and dedication from all big OEMs to drive toward this future. The E-mobility trend is here to stay and will be getting stronger year, by year.”

Southern Power is ready to equip you with the tools, support services, and knowledge to meet all your maritime needs in these fast-changing times. Contact us today for a consultation or to find out more about the trends outlined here.

Jacques Brümmer, – Southern Power Products