ABB to power world’s first hybrid-electric biomass fuel carriers

ABB to power world’s first hybrid-electric biomass fuel carriers
Conceptual Graphic Image of ROBOSHIP. Image source: e5 Lab, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding

The Japanese Shipowners’ Association has announced that the Japanese shipping industry will take on the challenge of achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

One of its most significant initiatives is e5 Lab, a consortium comprising Asahi Tanker., Exeno Yamamizu, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, and Mitsubishi, with the purpose of developing renewably powered commercial ships.

Addressing the decarbonisation challenges facing Japan’s ocean shipping and maritime industries, e5 Lab has recently unveiled ROBOSHIP – a design for a biomass fuel carrier, powered by a fully standardised, electric propulsion system to attain zero emission operations at harbour.

Built by Honda Heavy Industries., the 70-metre length, 499-gross ton carrier will be equipped with ABB’s complete modularised electrical propulsion package, enabling it to utilise multiple energy sources for optimised operational efficiency and emissions-free operations.

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.

“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.”

ABB’s 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.

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 sytem 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.