Hybrid-electric biomass fuel carrier planned

By Jack Burke19 April 2022

System allows vessel to draw on multiple energy sources

ABB’s power distribution technology was selected by IHI Power Systems Co., Ltd. for a hybrid-electric propulsion vessel called ROBOSHIP. (Image: ABB)

ABB’s power distribution technology selected by IHI Power Systems Co., Ltd. for hybrid-electric propulsion vessel called ROBOSHIP.

The Japanese Shipowners’ Association has announced a goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. One of its most significant initiatives toward that goal is e5 Lab Inc., a consortium comprising Asahi Tanker Co., Exeno Yamamizu Corp., Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Mitsubishi Corp., with the purpose of developing renewably powered commercial ships.

Built by Honda Heavy Industries Co., Ltd., the 70 m, 499-gross ton carrier ROBOSHIP will be equipped with ABB’s complete modularized electrical propulsion package, enabling it to utilize multiple energy sources for optimized operational efficiency and emissions-free operations, the company said. According to ABB, additional benefits of the system include reduced noise and vibration, lower maintenance costs, and improved steering capabilities that make pier docking and undocking operations easier.

ABB said its Onboard DC Grid power distribution system is modular and can be built to suit various vessel types – from largest ocean-going ships to smaller lower-power vessels operating over shorter distances and on inland waterways. The solution future-proofs ships to draw on clean energy sources for zero-emissions operations – without compromising speed or sailing range, the company said. Onboard DC Grid also reduces the footprint of the electrical equipment by eliminating the need for bulky transformers and main switchboards. This creates more space for cargo, provides greater flexibility in the positioning of system components on board the vessel and increases payload capacity.

ABB’s full scope of supply includes a standard system package comprising the hardware for electric propulsion, including propulsion motors, DSC switchboards, energy storage batteries and generators, and ABB Ability Marine Remote Diagnostic System for continuous monitoring and remote support.

“The collaboration with ABB has been beyond our expectations in delivering world-leading technology and efficiency, the ultimate in safety and reliability, specific size and weight reductions, that is unique to coastal vessels.” said Yasumasa Suetsugu, chief technology officer, e5 Lab. “Furthermore, the high digital compatibility will help reduce both operations and maintenance costs. Our goal is to make a significant contribution to resolving the environmental challenges and reducing crew workload which face coastal shipping in Japan.”

Masao Akamatsu, president, IHI Power Systems, said his company’s marine power systems team chose to work with ABB based on its excellent global reputation as an integrator of marine electrical systems and reliable, high quality products and services.

“We are honored to have been selected for this groundbreaking project that will play a significant part in the efforts to decarbonize Japanese shipping,” said Juha Koskela, division president, ABB Marine & Ports. “Electric-powered ships are key to the shipping industry’s sustainable future – and we take pride in providing our customers with highly efficient electric propulsion solutions that are compliant with today’s regulations and allow integrating with emissions-free energy sources in the future.”

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