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THE GREEN MARINE TECH GOLD RUSH

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New fuels are tested. The engine types and manufacturers are regrouping. Futuristic vessel concepts are introduced daily. More new solutions arrives to the industry of green maritime market.

If you have followed the market, you know exactly what I mean. Everybody is suddenly buying the message of the need to transform and this leads to the urge of providing new solutions. Nothing wrong about that and I am happy to see it happening. We can do a lot to improve shipping, boating and the way we treat the oceans.

By the way: We should be smarter than the car industry, which does the same from the serial productions point of view. Let’s not allow the small price difference in component prices to ruin the big difference of the outcome.

When following this green marine “gold rush” from my perspective, it has similar feeling as watching old movies from the 1950s. Many things are just naïve, but there are still some approaches, which do look potential for the eye of the old, experienced system developer. ( I have to make a remark, that these are quite a low number, unfortunately, considering the huge number of attempts.) The big international companies have all the time and money to focus on the basics, which will lead to something permanent. Meanwhile there is a danger, that the basics will come too late for the market. If this happens, the reputation of environmentally sustainable concepts may suffer, which will turn the development into the direction, that is not the optimum for the nature.

Here is my attempt to advise “the gold rush”. I know that now I am the one who is naïve, but I do it anyway. So in case you work on your project, small or large, professional or un-professional, hear this out:

3 SIMPLE THINGS TO MAKE THE ELECTRICAL SHIP DESIGN BETTER

You will find these three things simple and practical to improve your vessel concept. Do not just google and choose something that gets you excited. That is not engineering. And yes, engineering is needed, before something practical is ready for use.

1. Rules are for losers?

Whatever is your project, it wouldn’t do any harm to study a little bit about rules related to the shipbuilding and the electric solutions onboard. At the minimum, you need to know which rule you need to follow. This is not always easy to figure out, but especially for suppliers, this is mandatory. Tricky cases will be then, when you need to find out how shore side components are treated, for example the battery charger. Can this land-based rule also be used in the floating part? Usually not.

You may check with your insurance company (if your ship is insured?) or you may check with some of the classification company rules, like ABS in USA or DNVGL here in Europe. There is a link below, so that you can have a look into the terms and challenges they focus on. Regardless if your project needs to follow these, it is good to understand the basic methods to protect the batteries, for example.

Guide for Hybrid Electric Power Systems for Marine and Offshore Applications (eagle.org)

Battery and hybrid ships – DNV

2. Design your solution according to your needs, not vice versa

I have already criticized about doing the design with Google. Correct order of the design is to create accurate understanding of the needs of the operations and then look for the solution that is able to make the planned things happen. Incorrect manner is to choose the solution first and then squeeze it into the vessel and start using it, as it allows. This will only lead to problems. You may overload the system. The operation profile may not be what is designed for the equipment and there will be quality challenges. In worst case, you are unable to use your vessel safely due to some technical limitations.

So, choose the equipment according to your needs. If it comes with too high price tag, you may contact your local environmental authorities and see if there are any subventions available to help you on the financing. There usually are.

3. Focus on correct things

When I used to do commissioning some decades ago, there was a slogan: “Anybody can make the propeller turn, but it takes skill to control it.”

So focus on the use of the system. How to make it safe and practical for controlled use. Take this as a design priority from the very beginning and make decisions keeping this in mind. Very simple advise and easy to follow.

In my webshop, there are tools available, designed just for this kind of needs. For example, there is a very efficient tutorial giving you the basics of projecting the electrical system. It is written in a manner that should open your eyes to understand the basic needs before starting the own project. I have also written a book, how to set the targets for the project and success on reaching them. Learn more here:

BUILDING A HYBRID OR AN ELECTRIC SHIP EBOOK
MANAGING THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM PROJECT IN A VESSEL

Good luck and keep in touch!
Heikki

Copyright Tiina Kovanen-Bergman

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Heikki Bergman

I am expert on supporting conceptual decisions and pre-design in electrical ship concepts and modernizations. I have worked in power electronics since 1994, completely in marine since 1998. I have long and practical international experience.

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