ABB: Electric Propulsion to Become Essential in Shipping

Electric propulsion will become a maritime imperative rather than an alternative, according to Finland-based technology company ABB. 

The company believes the automotive industry’s wider adoption of hybrid electric systems and autonomous control sets the stage for the anticipated developments in the maritime industry.

In this regard, ABB has unveiled a new approach focused on applying power, control and automation solutions through a program of digital integration that will bring about a step change in vessel and fleet management.

“We are living through one of the most exciting periods in the history of the maritime industry. We believe the next generation of ships will be electric, digital and connected as the industry moves towards the use of new energy sources and automated ship operations,” Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports, said.

Ships featuring pure electric power and propulsion are simpler in terms of layout compared to those running on combustion engines alone, and less exposed to wear and tear. Electric power plants on board vessels optimize fuel consumption, maximize operational flexibility and allow for new energy sources, such as batteries and fuel cells, as explained by the company.

“Electric power and propulsion systems also provide a unique platform for digitalization. They are inherently connected, which makes it significantly easier to apply automation and software solutions,” Mikko Lepisto, Head of Digital Solutions at ABB Marine & Ports, commented, adding that this enables collecting and analyzing more data, making better decisions and improving performance.

“Furthermore, greater connectivity to shore and ever-increasing computing power, including machine learning, make it possible to exploit advanced analytics that feed into tools for energy efficiency and maintenance optimization,” Lepisto further said.

According to Lepisto, for shipyards, too, the case for more electric, digital and connected ships is compelling: “Because we integrate our electric, automation and digital solutions in the design phase, shipyards can reduce cost, schedule and risk.”

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