Onboard DC Grid™: flexible power distribution for modern vessel operations

Onboard DC Grid™: flexible power distribution for modern vessel operations

As the energy sources available to the maritime industry evolve, so must the power platform enabling them. ABB’s Onboard DC Grid™ is a flexible power distribution system delivering efficiency gains to the ships of today and futureproofing them for the challenges of tomorrow.

First commissioned on board a platform supply vessel in 2013, the Onboard DC Grid™ is a tried-and-tested solution comprising high-quality components, advanced configurations and autonomous subsystems for enhanced safety, efficiency and fault tolerance. Its compatibility with newer energy sources such as batteries and fuel cells ensures their simple, cost-effective integration and facilitates vessel upgrades. The platform also minimizes operating costs by cutting energy consumption and extending service intervals of the generator sets.

Suitable for ships operating in the low-to-mid power range, the Onboard DC Grid™ is based on pre-engineered modules that can be combined to deliver the required balance of power and resilience. This means that it can be scaled up or down to serve a variety of vessel types and operating profiles.

Exemplary is its deployment on board two starkly contrasting but similarly innovative vessels – Vision of the Fjords and NKT Victoria, which won ‘Ship of the Year’ in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Vision of the Fjords is a striking 40-meter sightseeing ferry designed to sail in the Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Norway. The groundbreaking vessel features a compact and lightweight version of the Onboard DC Grid™ – a crucial component in its silent, hybrid operations. NKT Victoria, meanwhile, is a state-of-the-art cable-laying vessel measuring 140 meters in length. As the most advanced ship of its kind at sea, NKT Victoria features a full-sized Onboard DC Grid™ platform to ensure environmental performance.

While Vision of the Fjords and NTK Victoria differ significantly, they both rely on the Onboard DC Grid’s compatibility with energy storage systems to enable hybrid and, in some cases, fully electric operations. As a larger vessel with a more complex operating profile, Victoria also benefits from the system’s ability to integrate variable speed generators for increased efficiency and reduced emissions.

Power train with fuel cells
Power train with fuel cells

Other ship types to have reaped the rewards of the Onboard DC Grid™ include offshore support vessels, for which the platform’s heightened fault tolerance is a key advantage; and icebreakers, which require the compact power plant setup that the system enables. Elsewhere, a pair of next-generation shuttle tankers from Samsung Heavy Industries have deployed the solution for its simple integration of variable speed shaft generators, while FrøyGruppen’s hybrid live fish carrier will leverage it to optimize energy use and integration with onboard process equipment.

In addition to its use for the integration of physical technologies, ABB’s Onboard DC Grid™ provides a unique platform for digital solutions. With sensors on board transmitting data between systems instantly, it opens the way for optimization in bridge- and shore-based performance – as well as to remote support through the ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operation Centers.

The Onboard DC Grid™ is the ideal power distribution platform for modern and next-generation vessels that prioritize efficiency and sustainability. Already delivering a multitude of benefits to a variety of ship types today, ABB’s cutting-edge system lays the foundation for the electric, digital and connected marine industry of tomorrow.


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