The Switch is a Finnish manufacturer of permanent magnet motors, generators and converters which recently launched what it dubs as a ‘next-generation drive train’ for energy efficient power generation and propulsion of merchant vessels. The solution, according to the company, combines The Switch’s permanent magnet and frequency converter technology to help open new opportunities for hybrid propulsion systems in the shipping sector.
Electrical drive trains based on permanent magnet (PM) technology from The Switch are designed to provide advanced control with a permanent magnet motor and a frequency converter as the major components. The controller acts as the “brains” for energy efficiency, designed to the network stable regardless of external conditions.
The Switch claims that its solution is “game-changing” as it enables vessels to produce electricity efficiently for the ship’s network, while allowing the operator to keep the auxiliary generators off and allow the main engines to operate at variable speed and generate electricity.
While soaring fuel prices, chronic overcapacity and lagging business have many in the deepsea sector scrambling for innovative means to shave operating costs, Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, President and CEO of The Switch, contends that the investment helps owners to realize immediate payback. “It will enable ship owner to save up to $67,000 per month in fuel costs, which may add up to 7% more profit per year.”
Permanent magnet generator technology has gained a successful track record in other industries, offering flexible and fuel efficient operation. PM machines can be more compact, lighter in weight and smaller in size.
According to the manufacturer, adding a frequency converter to a shaft generator allows a ship to control its speed and ensure a stable source of electricity for the ship’s network. The frequency converter allows the ship to choose between taking power from the main engine or from the auxiliary generators, as deemed best.
(As published in the November 2013 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - www.marinelink.com)