For over 60 years, the dominant form of ship propulsion consisted of diesel engines delivering thrust via a shaft and propeller. But as the industry moves forward, owners and operators must explore non-conventional sources of energy to power and propel vessels and meet environmental regulations. ABS has developed industry-leading guidance on alternative hybrid electrical technologies and offers certifications for the operation and installation of these technologies on vessels.
To learn more, contact us or view our guidance documents below.
A hybrid electric power system utilizes multiple sources of power, both non-traditional sources (e.g. batteries, super-capacitors, fuel cells) and traditional sources (e.g. internal combustion engine driven generator sets, shaft generator driven by main engine). These can be categorized as hybrid forms of energy storage, distribution and generation.
Lithium batteries are relatively new for the marine and offshore industry and for large energy applications. However, they are the dominant rechargeable battery and provide high energy density, faster charging, low self-discharging, low memory effect and are lightweight in nature.
Supercapacitors, or electrochemical capacitors, offer a high-power density, fast charging and discharging, no thermal runaway and a wider operating-temperature range compared to other types of electric energy storage devices. The application of supercapacitor technology can help improve energy efficiency of the onboard power plant.
Flywheels are mechanical devices designed to store kinetic energy from rotation, dependent upon their size and rotational speed. A flywheel is a type of energy accumulator that inherently smooths small deviations in the power output of a system. They can be used in mechanical energy storage systems.
Direct Current (DC) Power Distribution Systems
Direct current distribution systems facilitate electric propulsion and the integration of generators, energy storage systems and direct current loads. Independent from a fixed-frequency system, DC distribution systems improve system arrangement flexibility and energy efficiency.
Fuel cell power systems convert chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through an electrochemical reaction of fuel with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. They are unique in that they can continuously produce electricity as long as a fuel and oxygen are supplied, providing increased energy efficiency, low to zero emissions and reduced noise levels.
Wind assisted propulsion systems utilize wind thrust to reduce vessel fuel consumption, providing energy savings and reducing main engine power requirements. There are two modern technologies in this area: Flettner rotors and wing sails.
The conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) cells can be useful for a wide range of applications, including auxiliary power generation on marine and offshore vessels. Solar PV is rapidly becoming an inexpensive, low-carbon technology to harness renewable energy from the sun and support the decarbonization of shipping.