Shipping is key to the global economy, with over 80 percent of world merchandise trade carried by sea, and this year’s World Maritime Day on September 29 highlights the importance of accelerating the transition of the maritime sector to a more sustainable future. This important day is spearheaded by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency responsible for regulating shipping.
This year’s theme, 'New technologies for greener shipping', is linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDGs 13 and 14 on climate action and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources; SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure; and SDG 17, which highlights the importance of partnerships and implementation to achieve these goals. ABB has also targeted these SDGs, among others, and with its 2030 sustainability strategy, the company is actively enabling a low-carbon society as well as working with customers and suppliers to implement sustainable practices across value chains and the lifecycle of products and solutions.
New technologies to increase energy efficiency of ships, as well as the uptake of alternative fuels and systems to produce such fuels – especially those than can harness renewable energy – are key for decarbonizing the shipping industry. Innovative solutions utilizing digital technologies and artificial intelligence are no less important and help shipping companies make better decisions to improve operational efficiencies and cut emissions as a result.
Technologies to make ports greener and more efficient complement the transition of shipping into a greener future. Electrification, automation and remote solutions for container handling cranes help operators mitigate congestions and dwell time in ports, reducing emissions as well as lowering noise and light pollution.
Already today, shore connection systems enable fully electric operations for vessels traveling over shorter distances and help larger vessels reduce emissions during port calls. With ABB’s shore connection system, a cruise ship can cut its daily greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35 percent when the port call lasts eight hours.
ABB offers tailor-made solutions, which include electrical propulsion, data-driven decision support and integrated systems for ship and shore. With these, ABB is paving the way to a zero-emission marine industry, providing greater efficiency and reliability to shipowners, and preparing vessels to meet the demands of tomorrow.
For some 30 years now the Azipod® electric propulsion, a gearless steerable propulsion system where the electric drive motor is housed within a pod outside the ship hull, has brought higher performance for all kinds of ships. Azipod® units can rotate 360 degrees, increasing maneuverability and operating efficiency of a vessel, while cutting fuel consumption by up to 20 percent compared to conventional shaft line systems. Azipod® propulsion is available in power ranges from 1MW to 22MW, making it suitable for smaller crafts, ferries, cruise ships, cargo carriers and icebreakers capable of independently operating in the harshest conditions. Today, over 25 vessel types rely on the Azipod® technology.
Similar to a parking radar and camera system, blind zone visibility and adaptive cruise control in a modern car, ABB Ability™ Marine Pilot Vision gathers data from multiple sources on a ship, interprets the information and conveys these insights to the crew. Pilot Vision enables full situational overview onboard and remotely and is a prerequisite for remote and autonomous vessel operations.
ABB’s pioneering autonomous technologies further expand the capabilities of the crew by, for instance, automating complex maneuvers and avoiding potentially dangerous situations, thus enabling safer and more efficient operations. Featuring ABB technologies onboard, the ice-class passenger ferry Suomenlinna II was successfully piloted remotely through Helsinki harbor in 2018, and Keppel Offshore & Marine’s tug completed autonomous collision avoidance trials in Singapore harbor in March 2022, safely avoiding several simultaneously approaching vessels without human intervention.
The ABB Ability™ OCTOPUS Marine Advisory System is a unique product family for performance management in marine operations. Through various deployment methods, fuel consumption and emissions can be reduced by guiding crew decisions quickly. The crew can also receive operational advice that contribute to increased vessel safety and availability. Fleet visibility is achieved through secure data transfer for broader analysis by shoreside specialists in the office.
Shifting to clean sources of energy also calls for a shift in the power systems vessels use. Ships need power systems that can be flexible enough to integrate a wide range of energy sources, such as batteries and fuel cells, as well as enable shipowners to add or exchange power sources as they evolve. One such power system is Onboard DC Grid™, a modular power system platform. It enables simple, flexible and functional integration of energy sources and loads. The system platform is highly customizable, covering the low to mid-power range. Onboard DC Grid™ streamlines the building of next generation power systems and eases the integration of renewable power.
A shaft generator can boost the main propulsion shaft, and also provide power to take a vessel home for an extra layer of redundancy should the main engine fail. In addition, the system offers the opportunity to connect energy storage, shore-to-ship power and other new energy sources and functionalities to the power and propulsion plant. Generating up to 4.5MW of power, the latest shaft generator from ABB utilizes permanent magnet technology, which enables better efficiency, performance and reliability than either induction or electrically excited synchronous machines at both full and partial loading. This helps to cut fuel costs by up to 4 percent, offering a payback period of two to four years. It also significantly reduces CO2 emissions of a ship by several tons for each day at sea. The new generator can be installed in a wide range of vessels including bulk carriers, container carriers, liquid natural gas tankers and ferries. With technologies to tackle the decarbonization challenges of the marine segment, ABB is making a world of difference to the shipping industry.
With this integrated approach, marine vessels can have far less impact on the environment, allowing passengers, crew and shoreside residents to enjoy the benefits of cleaner, quieter, and safer ships.