ABB system to power hybrid-electric biomass fuel carrier

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Switzerland-headquartered technology company ABB is to provide an electric-propulsion system for the e5 Lab’s Roboship project to support the decarbonization of the Japanese shipping industry.

The Japanese Shipowners’ Association announced in October 2021 its goal of achieving net zero GHG by 2050, and is supported in this endeavor by the e5 Lab consortium, consisting of Asahi Tanker, Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and the Mitsubishi Corporation, which will further develop renewably powered commercial vessels.

e5 Lab’s previously announced Roboship project will now feature a fully standardized, electric propulsion system from ABB to enable zero-emission operations in harbor locations.

Built by Honda Heavy Industries, the 70m-long and 499-gross ton vessel is said to be the world’s first hybrid-electric biomass fuel carrier and will have ABB’s complete modularized electrical propulsion package installed on board, enabling it to utilize multiple energy sources for optimized operational efficiency and emission-free operations. Furthermore, the new system will lower maintenance costs, reduce noise and vibration levels, and improve the ship’s steering capabilities when pier docking or undocking.

ABB was selected by IHI Power Systems, and its supply scope consists of a standard system package which will include all of the necessary hardware for electric propulsion, propulsion motors, DSC switchboards, energy storage batteries and generators, and ABB Ability Marine Remote Diagnostic System, a solution that enables continuous monitoring and remote support.

The onboard DC grid power distribution system from ABB is modular, making it suitable for installation onto a wide range of vessel types. By enabling ships to draw on clean energy sources for zero-emission operations without compromising range or speed, it also supports future-proofing. ABB’s onboard DC grid will also lower the footprint of electrical equipment by negating the need for large transformers and main switchboards, creating more cargo space and flexibility when positioning system components.

“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.”

“Our marine power systems team chose to work with ABB based on their excellent global reputation as an integrator of marine electrical systems and reliable, high-quality products and services,” commented Masao Akamatsu, president, IHI Power Systems.

“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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After spending six years working as a mechanic for various motorsport and high-end performance car companies, Callum joined UKi Media & Events in February 2020 as an assistant editor. In this role he uses his vast practical knowledge and passion for automotive to produce informative news pieces for multiple vehicle-related sectors.

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