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New ABB microgrid technology improves the efficiency of next-generation ships

Hamburg, September 05, 2016 – ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, presents a new all-in-one microgrid solution for ships that takes advantage of smart circuit breakers to improve efficiency and productivity. In an industry first, a software-based innovation for the company’s Emax 2 smart circuit breaker makes it simpler for next-generation ships to save energy.

“Modern ships are essentially islanded microgrids that need innovative solutions to manage the power on board in the best way possible,” said Giuseppe Scali, global product manager for ABB’s low-voltage air-circuit breakers. “ABB’s all-in-one protection and control solution does this by embedding all the software and intelligence inside a smart circuit breaker designed for marine applications.”

Next-generation ships will use more advanced microgrid technologies to overcome current power distribution challenges. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that better energy management on board all ships can improve power consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10 percent. Electrical distribution on a ship is an islanded microgrid connecting multiple power generators and energy storage systems, which manages directional power flows – often with negligible transmission lines. By using smart technologies to protect, connect and control the electrical system, ships can operate more efficiently and productively.

ABB’s Emax 2 low-voltage circuit breaker is the industry’s first smart circuit breaker. Its embedded connectivity and load management software provides a comprehensive energy management solution. The load profile optimization functions of Emax 2, reduces CO2 emissions and fuel costs and it is 25 percent smaller and significantly lighter than traditional installations – a key benefit for naval architects. The innovative circuit breaker safeguards a ship’s mission-critical loads and generators, using advanced adaptive protection to maximize productivity under all conditions.

With redundant actuators and communication modules built in, Emax 2 takes electrical system reliability to new levels. ABB’s solution is the only one available that uses both communication bus and electrical connections to prevent, detect and isolate electrical faults. Its unique “digital zone selectivity” function correctly identifies the fault zone faster and cuts its power supply earlier. As a result, the electrical protection is more robust and costly shutdowns are more effectively prevented.

‘’Smart devices will play an increasingly important role in the efficient running of ship microgrids’’, adds Alberto Pagano, global industry segment manager for ABB’s protection and connection business. ‘The financial costs of non-productive time for ships are also a factor – a typical drill ship can lose $12 million a year to operational downtime.’’

ABB’s all-in-one protection and control microgrid solution provides the efficiency, system reliability, fuel costs and space improvements that future ships require.

With over 25 years of experience and more than 30 executed microgrid projects globally, ABB is the leading provider of products and solutions across power generation, including renewables, automation, grid stabilization, energy storage, power protection and intelligent control technology as well as consulting services to enable microgrids globally.

ABB ( is a leading global technology company in power and automation that enables utility, industry, and transport & infrastructure customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 135,000 people.

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