Solar-Powered Catamarans for Croatian Smart Islands Being Developed

By 27 October 2021

October the 27th, 2021 - Croatian smart islands are set to have something new, with as many as 21 autonomous, solar-powered catamarans set to connect them to the mainland.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the Republic of Croatia is very much a ''maritime country'' and ships, mostly ferries and catamarans, are often the only connection to civilisation for tens of thousands of inhabitants on 47 of the nation's inhabited islands. That's why efficient and ecological shipping is of strategic importance for the country. Part of the solution could be a system of autonomous electric ships, the proposal of which was presented very recently in Zagreb.

At the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (FSB), the initiative "Autonomous electric ships for smart islands and cities" was signed with the aim of developing modern shipping, using a zero emission rate, relying exclusively on "green" fuels.

At the FSB, they point out that technologically advanced propulsion on ships is accompanied by partial or complete autonomy, where the safety aspects of passenger transport come first, and autonomous docking is the first development step.

The initiative envisages the development and construction of 21 passenger ships with a capacity of 100 to 300 passengers, which will be built in three sizes, and one of each model will be located throughout the Croatian Adriatic as part of a pilot project to test the possibilities of individual destinations. A total of seven destinations will be selected on the basis of joint deliberations with the competent authorities and the aim will be to connect Croatian smart islands in a far better way.

These modern green vessels will be for the benefit of both residents and tourists

The development of this fleet of electric ships is accompanied by requirements for the development of energy infrastructure for the supply of ships with electricity. The project also envisages the development of charging stations with battery tanks and solar power plants for green electricity generation.

By connecting to the energy infrastructure, the battery tanks of ship charging stations will contribute to the development of Croatian smart islands and cities as part of a system of "smart" networks that will enable the storage and delivery of the said electricity.

As explained by Tomislav Uroda, the director of the company "iCat - integrator and shipbuilder" on whose ships electric propulsion and autonomous navigation will be tested, based on the existing iCat model, they'll develop a passenger ship project and ship management and control system based on advanced methods and artificial intelligence (AI).

"Ship monitoring and control, a robotic system for replenishing the ship's energy tanks, and a system of high-power smart charging stations that use energy from renewable sources are the backbone of the development and application of modern technical solutions in maritime transport.

In order to significantly improve the lives of islanders and residents in coastal cities, as well as the many tourists who visit these areas, with this initiative, Croatia has a unique opportunity to contribute to the implementation of green and digital transition through the National Recovery and Resilience Programme and other EU funds. Rich in renewable energy sources, Croatian smart islands can lead the energy transition to a completely carbon-neutral economy in 2050,'' said Uroda.

Power plants on the islands of Vis, Cres…

Croatian islands don't have larger plants that use energy from fossil fuels, and there are more and more and more construction projects for plants that use green, renewable sources, such as solar power plants on islands such as Vis, Cres, Unije and elsewhere.

Given the above, the decarbonisation in electricity consumption and production will be implemented quickly, and the transport and connection of Croatian smart islands is an essential item that depends on fossil fuels.

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