Iconic harbor race for ABB Formula E highlights transformative power of ABB technology in marine industry

Iconic harbor race for ABB Formula E highlights transformative power of ABB technology in marine industry

There is no more iconic location for an ABB Formula E race than Monaco, where the series will arrive this weekend for its first race on the full-length Monte Carlo circuit – round seven of the Season 7 championship.

The energy efficiency gains of the ‘Gen2’ racecars will be fully displayed on the globally renowned course, where the all-electric machines have previously used a shortened, flatter, version of the track.

As they do so, they will weave through a glittering armada of superyachts in Monaco harbor, on a waterfront steeped in nautical culture, to forge a link with a field of world-leading ABB expertise beyond e-mobility: marine industry power, propulsion and connectivity systems that set the global standard.

Underpinning ABB’s marine philosophy are three core attributes: electric, digital, connected. These key facets are enabling ABB to transform maritime transportation in sustainable ways and help the industry meet challenges presented by climate change, emerging-market economic development and growing urbanization.

Just as ABB Formula E highlights e-mobility solutions in an urban environment, ABB’s broader position as a front-runner in sustainable transportation is equipping the marine industry solutions that maximize the full potential of vessels and ultimately enable a safe, efficient and sustainable maritime industry.

ABB, a pioneer in electric transportation, has provided electrical systems on board vessels since the early twentieth-century, and today more than 1,700 ships employ ABB’s electric technologies. Increasingly, modern ships are being built on the foundation of electricity, which expands their range of viable energy sources beyond traditional fuel to batteries and fuel cells, for example – both technologies in which ABB delivers specific expertise.

Azipod® electric propulsion: saving fuel and reducing emissions

Perhaps ABB’s most transformative foray into marine industry technology was the introduction in 1991 of Azipod® electric propulsion. With Azipod® propulsion, an electric motor housed in a pod is suspended below the hull of a ship and can rotate 360 degrees to increase maneuverability, efficiency and space available on board.

Azipod® propulsion has become an industry benchmark for environmentally-friendly vessel technology.
Azipod® propulsion has become an industry benchmark for environmentally-friendly vessel technology.

From its creation three decades ago, to its unique position in shipping today, Azipod® propulsion has evolved to meet varied and ever-changing needs of the marine industry, bringing higher performance for all kinds of ships. This year, ABB celebrates 30 years of Azipod® propulsion in operation. Energy savings equivalent to 1,000,000 tons of fuel have been made in the cruise sector, thanks to the selection of Azipod® propulsion.

Moving superyachts into a new era of e-mobility

The scalability of Azipod® propulsion means that it is equally well-suited to the increasingly environmentally conscious superyacht sector, a market where owners also place special value on the highest comfort standards brought by lower noise and vibrations.

This shift in priorities is reflected in superyacht pioneers opting for advanced sustainable technologies that are powering increased decarbonization in the broader marine market. In January 2021, ABB announced a contract for Azipod® technology with Dutch luxury yacht builder Oceanco.

Superyacht powered by an integrated electric propulsion system.
Superyacht powered by an integrated electric propulsion system.

Both companies have recently underlined their commitment to sustainable development and ambitious targets that will also help decarbonize the marine sector. As part of its Sustainability Strategy 2030 launched in November 2020, ABB will achieve carbon neutrality across its own operations and will support its customers in reducing their annual CO2 emissions by at least 100 megatons, equivalent to the annual emissions of 30 million combustion cars. Meanwhile, the superyacht builder has launched the Oceanco NXT initiative to collaborate with partners across different business sectors with the ultimate aim of designing and building zero-emission superyachts.

Plug-in sustainability with ABB Shore Connection

The pressure for the maritime industry to raise its environmental game is most intense for ships in port, where emissions can have a significant impact on air quality. Increasingly, plug-in shore power is providing the answer, helping deliver the benefits of sustainability from grid to propeller.

Shore Connection system can charge ship batteries enabling fully-electric operations.
Shore Connection system can charge ship batteries enabling fully-electric operations.

The rise in adoption of hybrid power systems incorporating batteries on vessels in the cruise, ferry and offshore sectors creates a generation of vessels whose technologies align with power sources from shore.

Marcus Martelin, ABB Marine & Ports’ Vice President for Electric Services, Shore Connection and Hybrid Solutions said: “Port authorities are keener than ever to provide robust shore power systems. In Europe, the pioneering Scandinavian countries are now being joined by ports and terminals in Germany, the Netherlands and Mediterranean facilities in Spain, France and Italy.”

Connecting Europe

Meanwhile, on the northern French coast, P&O Ferries is preparing to modernize its Dover-Calais route with two new vessels equipped with ABB electric, digital and connected solutions including Azipod® propulsion. The ferries promise to reduce fuel consumption on the 21-mile crossing by 40 percent, or one ton of fuel on each round-trip journey – a sixth of what is currently used.

P&O Ferries will modernize its Dover-Calais route with two new vessels equipped with ABB electric, digital and connected solutions.
P&O Ferries will modernize its Dover-Calais route with two new vessels equipped with ABB electric, digital and connected solutions.

Pioneering solutions for electric ferries

Fast urban ferries are also benefitting from ABB marine technology. Earlier this year ABB reached an agreement to supply Spanish shipbuilder Astilleros Gondán with an all-electric power solution for ferries operating on Lisbon’s Tagus river.

ABB estimates that replacing ten diesel-powered ferries with a new, all-electric fleet will cut about 6,500 tons in CO2 emissions every year. This is equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions generated by around 1,400 passenger cars.

With the International Maritime Organization targeting a cut in annual emissions from ships of at least 50 percent by 2050 against 2008 levels, the all-electric ferry project represents a significant contribution to sustainable shipping by the city of Lisbon.

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