Hybrid cars have been a success. The shipping industry is now moving in the same green direction.
ABB is convinced that vessels fitted with hybrid main propulsion machinery are the future, and the company expects to sign its first contract in the course of the year.
“Hybrid propulsion systems significantly reduce both fuel consumption and emissions,” says Børre Gundersen, R&D manager for ABB’s marine activities in Norway.
The company is currently testing the technology in a hypermodern hybrid laboratory in collaboration with NTNU and the SINTEF-institute MARINTEK.
Saving 15 percent of the energy
“The aim of the project is to develop and demonstrate solutions for improved, more energy-efficient propulsion systems for marine use. What we have found so far is that a direct-current power system that incorporates an energy store (i.e. battery) would result in 10 – 15 per cent lower fuel consumption and emissions than a traditional alternating current system.
This is because the energy store optimises operation of the internal combustion engine, which in turn means reduced fuel consumption, reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and particles, and not least, improved power system reliability,” says MARINTEK research manager Anders Valland.
The research team envisages that hybrid motors would be particularly effective in offshore operations, in which vessels perform many different tasks under a wide range of weather conditions.
Better and cheaper batteries
“The battery can absorb peak loads, while the internal combustion engine can continue to operate at its optimal level. This will also mean that in the future, future ships will not need such large engines as they do today, but rather smaller engines with batteries as backup and for security,” says Valland.
ABB believes that there could be a large market for electric vessels and el-hybrid vessels in the near future. One of the reasons for this belief is that experts expect to see battery capacity doubling by 2020, without a corresponding rise in cost. Moreover, they offer significant environmental benefits.
Read more: Hybrid vessels will soon be on the market
The Latest on: Hybrid ships
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