THE maritime business ought to chorus from overblowing the dangers of shipping electrical automobiles regardless of severe fires lately, in response to insurance coverage consultants from NorthStandard.
The rise of EVs has undoubtedly altered the operation’s danger profile, however the business continues to be studying the true extent and the way finest to reply, they are saying.
“We should always keep away from sensationalism about EVs being perilous. That’s not the case,” mentioned Colin Gillespie, international head of loss prevention on the P&I membership, fashioned from the North and Standard Membership merger.
He advised Lloyd’s Record in an interview that no definitive proof exhibits EVs induced any previous shipboard hearth incidents, regardless of suspicions.
Excessive-profile automotive provider casualties lately embrace Höegh Xiamen (IMO: 9431848) in 2020, Felicity Ace (IMO: 9293911) in 2022 and Grande Costa D’Avorio (IMO: 9465382) and Fremantle Freeway (IMO: 9667344) earlier this yr.
Initially, the Dutch coastguard confirmed Fremantle Freeway’s crew reported detecting the hearth close to EVs. However salvage agency Boskalis later mentioned the EVs on board appeared in good situation, whereas the official trigger stays unsure.
Nonetheless, Gillespie acknowledged EVs have prompted rethinking hearth prevention and response on automotive carriers resulting from totally different hazards and behaviours.
“The business is now prepared to vary its firefighting strategy after many years of doing issues the identical approach,” he mentioned, including whereas it’s a main step for the sector, success isn’t assured.
“We simply don’t know sufficient about how EVs behave in a car provider hearth.”
New analysis from the International Union of Marine Insurance exhibits lithium-ion EV battery fires will not be extra frequent or harmful than standard car fires.
Nevertheless, EVs do current further dangers, reminiscent of thermal runaway, the place batteries endure unstable chemical reactions, making fires onerous to place out. This doesn’t happen in standard automobiles.
In some instances, ignition could also be delayed and vapour cloud explosions can ensue, with doubtlessly larger harmful pressure.
“There are some very regarding unknowns round vapour clouds, with little or no analysis into ensuing explosions and toxicity,” Gillespie mentioned.
He mentioned too little was recognized concerning the triggers of vapour clouds, which made it onerous to present concrete recommendation on stopping them.
Firefighters should react quickly to comprise unfold. “Response needs to be taken below 20 minutes, within the 15-minute area,” Gillespie mentioned.
Ought to fires unfold to greater than two or three vehicles, fastened firefighting techniques on board have to be engaged swiftly. “A mindset change is required from ship operators.”
Delivery corporations look like taking be aware.
Mitsui OSK Lines, for instance, introduced this week it’s going to set up cameras and an AI system, which alerts crew and shoreside administration when detecting irregular pictures of smoke on 10 new LNG-fueled automotive carriers delivering from 2024 to allow quicker response. The corporate can be contemplating retrofitting its current fleet.
Gillespie’s colleague, declare director Iain Gilchrist, mentioned crew firefighting coaching and drills additionally want enhancing or reinventing to satisfy new calls for.
“Let’s make drills as sensible as potential, not simply sounding alarms,” he mentioned.
Operators ought to take proactive steps, together with stricter inspections on EVs earlier than loading them to detect the problematic vehicles, Gilchrist added.
Decrease EV battery cost states are additionally advisable, on the considering that much less power could shorten potential burning occasions if issues happen.
However Gillespie mentioned insurers can hardly specify cost percentages, and operators lack management.
“It’s as much as particular person vessel operators to consider and liaise with the producers on acceptable cost ranges for brand spanking new vehicles,” he mentioned.
He defined decrease prices could cut back the power of a hearth, however this alone wouldn’t forestall thermal runaway.
The Car Provider Security Discussion board — fashioned by a bunch of ship operators and insurers — will quickly launch finest apply tips referring to the supply of automobiles, together with EVs, to vessels and their stowage because it pertains to hearth security.
The Worldwide Union of Marine Insurance coverage and ClassNK launched related suggestions earlier.
For underwriters, successfully pricing these added dangers and associated firefighting/prevention modifications stays a studying course of, Gillespie mentioned.
At present, premiums nonetheless comply with security data: “If a vessel operator has had fires, premiums rise as insurers attempt to get their a reimbursement.”
Additionally, the car provider sector as an entire is now handled with extra warning, with the variety of complete losses and severe incidents hanging a monetary blow to equipment insurers and P&I golf equipment lately.
“Naturally that takes capability out of the market and drives additional will increase in premium prices,” Gillespie mentioned.