Tech Feature: Next-Generation Maritime Electrical Solutions Today
Asbjørn Halsebakke of Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch discusses the application in maritime for the company’s new generation DC-Hub with its unique Electronic DC Breaker (EDCB) and Electronic Bus Link (EBL).
- Your company is starting to talk about its new generation DC-Hub. Can you give an overview of this product evolution with insight on what makes it unique?
I think one of the key features with maritime products and with DC-Hub is that you need to think first about personal safety. You need to think about how to make sure that everything is in a safe mode. And if you have a critical fault, you need to disconnect. That is what we are able to do with our EBL and EDCB. With the Electronic DC Breaker (EDCB) we can disconnect a module within 10 microseconds; faster than any fuse, faster than any breaker. Anyone who has ever been onboard a vessel knows if everything goes black, that’s a scary situation. By using our electronic DC breaker, one fault will disconnect only that fault. So you can continue to run your main propulsion, your tunnel thrusters (and other critical systems). But you can still have one critical fault on your main DC link.
- In practical terms, what benefits does the EDCB and the EBL offer to the end user?
It is a much easier, because if you have a fault, you don’t have to go down and change a fuse. You can just press reset on the bridge and try again. If it’s not a critical fault, you’re up and running. What is very important with our EBL is it gives the possibility to introduce a new DC-Hub. When I speak with ship owners today, a leading concern for ships being built today is they know that energy sources will change during the life of the vessel, but today they don’t know exactly what that energy source will be.
By having our EBL in the DC-Hub, we can connect a new DC-Hub into the system that then might have the new energy source that will come in 5, 10, 15 years down the line.
That might be a fuel cell, or it might be a new engine, or maybe it’s something that we are not even discussing today. The key to the future (and maintaining a good value and long-life for the ship) is to be flexible.
- Is the new DC-Hub installed on a ship today?
Yes, it is. The first installation we did was installed and commissioned during one of the really bad COVID periods here in Europe during the summer of 2021. We had to do a lot of the commissioning over phone. We have six more vessels coming.
- When you look at the world today, where do you see the best prospects for this solution by vessel type?
It has been a quite fast development of DC-Hubs, and today almost all our offerings and all our deliverers are with the DC-Hub. I do believe that most vessels can benefit from having a DC-Hub on board.
I don’t believe that all vessels should have a complete DC system, that all vessels today, where it’s better to have a mix of an AC and a DC system, but the more energy source you have on batteries, on fuel cells, on variable speed engines, the better it is to have it on a DC-Hub.
So there are many vessel types that can benefit. We’re seeing interest from a wide variety of vessel types, from tankers to fast passenger ferries to reefer ships; even new Navy vessels we can see are coming into the DC-Hub configuration. We believe that this makes everything a lot easier for the vessel owner to reach the goals that IMO are setting to make vessels more environmentally friendly.
- Watch the full interview with Asbjørn Halsebakke on Maritime Reporter TV