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Sparky named in TIME's Best Inventions 2022 list

​​Ports of Auckland's Sparky has been named as one of TIME's Best Inventions for 2022

Sparky is the world's first full-sized ship handling electric tug in the world, and we are thrilled that such an innovative and sustainable vessel has been recognised as one of the best inventions of the year in the transportation category.

Sparky is the result of a six-year collaboration between Ports of Auckland and Damen Shipyards – who took on the project in 2016. Damen Shipyards became a true partner in this project, and it's extremely rewarding to see Sparky getting this industry wide recognition.

For Allan D'Souza, GM Marine and Multi Cargo Operations at Ports of Auckland who led the e-tug project for the port, Sparky is a dream come true.

"Back in 2016, when we first pitched the idea for a fully electric tug, we were told we were dreaming. To see Sparky in real life and outperforming expectations is brilliant.  It's all smiles now but it wasn't all plain sailing, there were challenges along the way when COVID-19 hit, borders closed, and we couldn't get to the ship building yard to see her progress in person. To see her moving ships for us is wonderful" says D'Souza.

Roger Gray, Ports of Auckland CEO, is delighted for the team who worked virtually and across three continents during COVID-19.

"I would like to thank the ports' Marine team and acknowledge our partner Damen Shipyards for their work. When the project started there were no emissions-free ship-handling options around; however, Damen were up for the challenge and now they've changed the game with our e-tug Sparky.

"Sparky is the first e-tug of its type in the world and was a truly innovative project for us. She is helping us step towards the ports' decarbonisation of operations and towards our long-term emissions reduction goals."

"E-tugs are the future for ship handling and Ports of Auckland are proud to have led the way. We are looking forward to seeing the rest of the industry follow her lead." says Gray.

Sparky recently won Tug of the Year at the 2022 International Tug and Salvage Awards and is a finalist in the New Zealand Sustainable Business Network Awards.

"You'll be able to spot Sparky on Auckland's Waitematā Harbour as her superstructure is painted bright green, unlike our blue diesel tugs. What you won't notice is noise or smoke; being electric she's a lot quieter, and cleaner, than our current diesel tugs" says D'Souza.


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About Sparky:

  • Sparky is the first Damen RSD-E Tug 2513.
  • She has a 6-metre draft, is 24.73 length and has two azimuth thrusters with 3-metre diameter propellers.
  • Sparky has a 70-tonne bollard pull (the same as the port's strongest diesel tug, Hauraki).
  • There are 8 battery racks holding 2,240 batteries, totalling 2,784 kWh of power.
  • Sparky can complete four shipping moves on a charge of batteries. Recharge time is approximately two hours.
  • Sparky is anticipated to save approximately 465 tonnes of CO2 in diesel emissions annually.
  • To ensure absolute safety – of utmost importance in shipping – Sparky also has two 1000kW back-up generator sets which will only be used in cases of emergency.
  • The expected cost of operating Sparky is less than a third of the cost of running a diesel tug.
  • Sparky was named via a public competition and vote in 2020.

About TIME's Best Inventions List

To compile the list, TIME solicited nominations from TIME's editors and correspondents around the world, and through an online application process, paying special attention to growing fields—such as the electric vehicle industry, green energy, and the metaverse. TIME then evaluated each contender on a number of key factors, including originality, efficacy, ambition, and impact.

Of the new list, TIME's editors write: "The result is a list of 200 ground-breaking inventions (and 50 special mention inventions)—including life-mapping artificial intelligence, diamonds made from excess carbon in the air, and the most powerful telescope ever—that are changing how we live, work, play, and think about what's possible."

For more information:
Julie Wagener
Head of Communications
M: 027 421 6697