Virtual race proves: ABB electric propulsion Azipod® saves fuel and cuts emissions

In pursuit of greater operational efficiency, two captains raced against each other in a digital simulator with ferries equipped with conventional shaftline and ABB Azipod® electric propulsion systems

ABB has staged a virtual race in the marine simulator facilities in Helsinki, where two experienced ferry captains competed head-to-head to find out which propulsion system delivered greater operational and environmental benefits.

Watch twocaptains race against each other in a simulator with vessels equipped with shaftline and Azipod® propulsion systems

Utilizing a digital simulator, Captain Ulf Lindroos of Viking Line and Captain Pietro Esposito of Grandi Navi Veloci had to navigate through a predetermined route into the port of Genoa in Italy, bringing their ferries to berth in the most safe, efficient and sustainable manner.

Captains would need to take quite a lot of elements into consideration during the race
Captains would need to take quite a lot of elements into consideration during the race

The race involved complex maneuvering in the harbor, with captains having to make a fast turn, followed by reversing the vessel astern to dock. To take the challenge up a gear, the marine simulator added the element of gusty weather, with winds of 5-7 meters per second pushing the vessel away from the dock. Neither of the captains had operated a vessel equipped with an Azipod® propulsion system before.

“The captains would need to take quite a lot of elements into consideration during this race, while they tried to dock the vessel as quickly as possible,” said Jukka Varis, Vice President of Technology at ABB Marine & Ports. “That includes the safety of the passengers on board, as well as challenging weather in a busy port with lots of traffic.”

During the first run, Capt. Lindroos docked the ferry equipped with the recently launched mid-power range Azipod® propulsion system in just 7 minutes and 58 seconds, consuming a total of 0,89 MWh in energy. Capt. Esposito took almost two minutes longer, with 1,26 MWh energy consumed.

“Capt. Esposito was using the conventional shaftline vessel’s stern thrusters to come into the dock against the wind. It was not only taking more time, but also more fuel, which means more emissions,” said Varis. “In total, the race showed 20% savings on the time and 30% savings on the fuel consumption. You can only imagine how much difference that makes when you count the savings on an annual basis.”

Speaking about his experience with the Azipod® propulsion, Capt. Lindroos highlighted the system’s benefits: “It’s easy to maneuver, easy to use, and you don’t need to use a rudder.”

To minimize the impact of the human factor on the race results, the captains swapped and had another run through the port of Genoa – with Azipod® propulsion once again enabling the ferry to dock faster.

“It's not the captain – it is definitely the technology that the captain has at his fingertips,” commented Varis.

Capt. Esposito, who had the opportunity to try out the ferry equipped with the Azipod® propulsion system, agreed: “I think this is the future of the ship propulsion.”

Azipod® propulsion was first introduced in 1990, since then becoming an industry benchmark in environment-friendly vessel technology. The Azipod® system, which extends below the hull of a ship, can rotate 360 degrees to increase maneuverability, efficiency and space available on board. Due to minimal noise and vibration, Azipod® propulsion also improves passenger and crew comfort.

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