Marine electric drive train specialist Yaskawa Environmental Energy / The Switch inks five-year global sourcing agreement with ABB Marine & Ports in Shanghai for its next-generation PMM2000M permanent magnet machines to be used as shaft generators in large containerships.
The first order for 16 machines, each with a power output of over 4 MW, will be installed as permanent magnet shaft generators (PMSGs) for dry cargo container vessels.
“We are excited to include ABB among the trusted vendors we collaborate with. They are famous worldwide for their systems integration and vessel automation expertise,” said Risto Ahvo, Head of Key Account Management at Yaskawa Environmental Energy / The Switch.
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“The contract also takes us deeper into the Asian market, where there is a lot of growth potential given the spate of new orders in China, Korea and Japan made on the back of hot container freight rates. It’s also great for business efficiency, as we won’t have to spend lots of time on individual proposals,” he said.
The company first marketed The Switch direct-drive PMMs to the wind industry where they have significantly improved turbine efficiency. It entered the marine market with its marine PMSGs featuring a frame size of 1,000 mm targeting bulk, chemical and car carriers with single and twin propulsion, and then with newly developed frame size of 1,500 mm machines for LNG carriers. The company has sold approximately 200 PMSGs to date.
Boxships in focus
The inline, direct-drive PMM2000M is specially designed for big container vessels powered by 2-stroke engines. Shaft generator power output on such vessels is often 4 MW to 5 MW. The PMM2000Ms has an operational speed of approximately 50–80 rpm. At more than five metres in diameter, it is physically large due to the high torque. As a PMSGs it offers competitive advantages in terms of low weight, extremely good efficiency and high power density, enabling top performance. The machine is simple to install and still compact given its huge power capacity.
“Ships won’t require any other source of electrical energy during long ocean voyages. This reduces genset wear-and-tear as gensets can stay off. Its mechanical simplicity also increases reliability and lowers maintenance requirements. A further characteristic is low vibration levels,” Ahvo said.
PMM2000Ms can be fitted to comply with EEXI and CII regulation parameters coming into force from 2023. Customer motivations are a mixture of reducing energy consumption, lowering emissions and increasing the amount of electricity available for other fuel-saving systems such as air compressors for hull air lubrication.
The stators will be produced in China and other components in the EU. Manufacturing of such big machines calls for specialist knowledge due to the high magnetic forces involved. Consequently, all assembly work on the units will take place at The Switch’s Large Drive Test Center (LDTC) in Lappeenranta.
World-class test center
“We will then test the machines using ABB frequency converters to verify electrical and thermal performance of all drive elements. This is typical at the LDTC where we can test solutions using either our own or customers’ drives and components. Testing involves string tests and back-to-back testing at full load. We will then ship the machines to China and will also send engineers to supervise installation,” said Ahvo.
The contract is the company’s first long-term supply agreement targeting large merchant vessels. “It proves our agility to create new machines suited to different markets. The PMM2000M is designed from scratch and, like all our innovations, stands on their own merits,” he said.
Towards greener shipping
He adds that this kind of supplier-vendor collaboration on energy-saving equipment is the best way to accelerate the green transition. “The PMM2000M has huge potential as electric propulsion gradually replaces conventional diesel-mechanical propulsion. With a PMM2000M propulsion motor, it’s possible to reach power up to 12 MW per propulsion line. With two machines on two propulsion lines, power can reach almost 50 MW, which is sufficient even for the largest ships,” said Ahvo. “PMSGs are just the beginning.”