Fully electric propulsion on a passenger ship becomes possible

The Norwegian explorer cruise line, Hurtigruten, is to build its two new expedition ships using a new and environmentally sustainable hybrid, electric propulsion technology from Rolls-Royce. The MS «Roald Amundsen» and MS «Fridtjof Nansen» are about to be constructed at Kleven Yard in Norway.

In addition to the hybrid power solution, the vessels will have the latest of automation and control systems, including the Rolls-Royce Unified bridge, the first delivery of two azipull propellers using permanent magnet technology, two large tunnel thrusters, stabilisers, four engines, winches and power electric systems. And of course the Rolls-Royce ship design.

Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce, President – Marine, said: “The two new explorer cruise vessels for Hurtigruten represent somewhat of a dream project for us; delivering our latest technology innovations into beautifully designed and fit-for-purpose vessels.”

The hybrid technology for MS «Roald Amundsen» and MS «Fridtjof Nansen» is planned for delivery in two phases. In phase one, auxiliary battery power will provide large reductions in fuel consumption related to “peak shaving”. In an optional phase two larger batteries can be installed, enabling the possibility of fully electric sailing across longer distances and over longer periods of time. This propulsion will be used when sailing into fjords, at port and in vulnerable areas.

Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten, said: “The future of shipping is, without a doubt, silent and emission free. We will use our new expeditionary ships as groundbreakers for this new technology and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible, today.”

Saves 3000 tons CO2 per year

The decision to invest in a hybrid solution is an important milestone in Hurtigruten’s goal of sailing fully electric expeditionary ships in the Arctic and Antarctic.
The technology, in combination with the construction of the hull and effective use of electricity on board, will reduce the fuel consumption by approximately 20 percent and CO2-emissions from the ships with 20 percent. This amounts to more than 3000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

“A passenger ship requires enormous amounts of energy to operate, and so far, there have been no technologies able to fulfil the requirements of a fully electric Hurtigruten ship. Hurtigruten’s new ships will probably be the first in the world,” said Daniel Skjeldam.

Electric propellers

Another innovation to be installed on MS «Roald Amundsen» and MS «Fridtjof Nansen» are main propulsion thrusters that use integrated permanent magnet (PM) technology instead of being powered by separate propulsion motors. Over the last two years, Rolls-Royce has launched a range of propulsion and deck machinery equipment driven by PM. From 2017 a new Azipull model will be on offer, and this is the product specified as the main propeller units on board Hurtigruten.

Azipull thrusters with pulling propeller and streamlined underwater skeg have proved highly popular propulsion units since they were introduced in 2003. Over four hundred and fifty units have been manufactured by Rolls-Royce (in Ulsteinvik, Norway) to date. With the introduction of electric drive through the use of permanent magnets, a proven Rolls-Royce technology is ensured a prolonged life according to SVP Propulsion Knut Eilert Røsvik: “We expect to see a shift from mechanical to electrical propulsion systems, and we are well positioned for this shift. We have invested in PM technology for more than ten years, and already have a lot of experience with it.”

The PM motor provides a very high efficiency over a wide speed range and reduces the space required in the thruster room. The propulsion system is well qualified for ships with ice class demand. Combined with the proven high propulsive and hydrodynamic efficiency of the azipull, this will be a winning combination.

Engine efficiency

As part of the hybrid power solutions to the new explorer vessels for Hurtigruten the newest diesel engines will be installed, the Bergen B33:45. Since it’s launch in 2014, this medium speed engine has been chosen by a variety of owners and yards for a range of ship designs, with 50 engines now delivered or on order.

The engine offers 20 per cent increased power compared to its predecessor, delivering the same output with fewer cylinders. This lowers the costs through the engine’s lifecycle, and also allows for smaller machine rooms on board. The engine meets the international environment requirements for IMO NOx Tier III with support from a SCR system (Selective catalytic Reduction). These four engines in combination with the use of batteries, comprise the cornerstones of the innovative hybrid solution onboard Hurtigruten.

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