American inventor Thomas Edison would be quite pleased at the recent news from Zurich-based ABB.
An early champion of direct-current (DC) electricity, Edison and financier J.P. Morgan made huge investments into the push for the widespread use of DC electricity in the United States. In the end, of course, Nicola Tesla’s alternating current won out.
Things have evolved however, where the use of DC power on ships has become more than just an idea. ABB has announced that the first vessel to feature their Onboard DC power grid, the 5000 DWT platform supply vessel Dina Star, has been delivered to Norwegian offshore owner Myklebusthaug Offshore by Kleven Yard.
In traditional electrical propulsion vessels, multiple DC connections are made to thrusters and propulsion drives from an AC circuit, accounting for more than 80 percent of electrical power consumption. ABB’s Onboard DC Grid represents a breakthrough for the maritime industry in optimized propulsion by distributing power through a single DC circuit, which they claim will provide power savings of up to 20% and have no need for bulky AC switchboards and AC propulsion transformers.
By distributing electricity in DC, ABB notes, the system allows the operation of the generators at a variable speed and consequently at the optimal specific fuel consumption. This is particularly beneficial for offshore vessels operating in Dynamic Positioning (DP) mode, where average power demand is low.
“We are delighted that the first vessel equipped with ABB’s Onboard DC Grid system has been delivered and are confident its performance will provide Myklebusthaug Offshore with a competitive edge,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division. “We are also looking forward to the opportunities ahead through Dina Star’s built-in capabilities to utilize supplementary onboard power from renewable energy sources.”
The Dina Star, designed by Marin Teknikk, is 93 meter long and will serve as a multipurpose oil field supply and construction vessel in the North Sea. ABB supplied the Onboard DC Grid system, including all power, propulsion, automation and advisory systems.