Kongsberg delivers Hurtigruten’s emissions reduction

2023-10-30T21:58:47+00:00 October 30th, 2023|Technology|
Helsinki-based power electronics specialist, The Switch is to supply a DC power distribution solution, as part of the battery-electric system for the world’s largest fully electric ropax on order for Argentine ferry operator, Buquebus.


The company will deliver The Switch DC-hub, ultra-fast electronic current limiter (ECL) and battery short-circuit limiter (BSCL) protection devices.


Technology group Wärtsilä will provide the specifically designed, fully battery-powered vessel with e-motor driven Wärtsilä waterjets as the main propulsors.


The battery modules and energy storage package is four times larger than on any electric/hybrid ship currently operating, the company claimed.


In addition, Corvus Energy will supply its Dolphin NextGen lightweight energy storage system (ESS), which with more than 40 MWh of energy storage, will be the largest battery system ever installed on a ship.


“We’re very proud to be contributing to this milestone project at a time when marine battery systems are getting bigger and bigger,” says Paul Atherton, The Switch’s General Manager Operation Unit Norway. “The project represents a big leap for the industry, which our proprietary DC-Hub power distribution drives and protection technology are helping to enable. Without our game-changing protection devices, it simply wouldn’t be possible to make battery systems safe on this scale.”


In many cases, DC power distribution in ships is widely recognised as being more energy-efficient than AC systems.


However, DC power distribution needs a different protection philosophy. And, today’s larger batteries require ultra-fast and fail-safe protection to withstand larger battery short-circuit currents. In addition, ultra-fast protection devices reduce the size of the total system by reducing the short-circuit current levels.


As a result, around 10 years ago, The Switch embarked upon designing a robust suite of protection devices to take care of short-circuit faults and ensure the greatest safety.


“Our suite of ultra-fast disconnect devices are specifically designed to guarantee safe DC distribution under all sailing conditions. Our protection devices also help to find optimal and compact solution especially with large batteries. This makes DC increasingly attractive for future-flexibility,” added Teemu Heikkilä, Head of Product Line Converters at The Switch.


For multiple applications, The Switch DC-Hub optimise multi-megawatt DC distribution systems for all marine vessels. The four ultra-fast devices protect The Switch DC-Hubs internal operations, between the DC-Hubs, and to and from the batteries.


The Switch Electronic Current Limiter (ECL) handles faults toward the batteries from the DC-Hub, protecting them from external failure and ensure ride-through.

The Switch Battery Short-Circuit Limiter (BSCL) restricts any short-term current from the batteries, immediately blocking the short-circuit system.


This allows more batteries to be connected to the electrical system and fewer DC-Hubs, making the entire system more compact. It is optimised for the much higher inductance of battery banks that a bus link cannot handle.


The Switch Electronic DC Breaker (EDCB) protects against short-circuit faults inside a DC-Hub and ensures ride-through. This semi-conductor-based device disconnects any failing drive module within 10 microseconds from the common DC link.


The Switch Electronic Bus Link (EBL) connects the vessel’s DC-Hubs and protects against faults between DC-Hubs. The DP3-rated and DNV-approved EBL provides protection outside the DC-Hub by spitting onboard grids in microseconds to isolate any faulty DC-Hub.


The high speed catamaran will be built by Tasmania’s Incat shipyard, which specializes in lightweight aluminium vessels for ferry operators, special service providers and military applications.


With an overall length of 130 m and a width of 32 m, she will be able to carry 2,100 pax and 226 cars on the service between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay across the River Plate.


Delivery is scheduled for 2025.


It was later announced that SSI, the shipbuilding software designer, will supply its ShipConstructor design and modelling solution to Tasmania’s Incat shipyard for the project.

The system has been selected by Incat to support structural modelling for two hull modules of Hull 096, the battery-electric ropax catamaran under construction for Buquebus.

Incat and its partner Revolution Design chose the ShipConstructor system to deliver specific benefits for this complex project, including centralised data management, automation and standardisation of design outputs, 3D visualisation on the shop floor and improved materials tracking.

SSI will also design a digital twin, created from data held within ShipConstructor, to facilitate a clear overview of vessel configuration, supporting efficient operations and lifecycle maintenance.

The electrical system integration is to be handled by Wärtsilä and ESS by Corvus Energy.

Incat is adopting ShipConstructor with the project already in progress, underscoring its belief that SSI can successfully deploy the solution, train and support shipyard personnel at high speed across relevant teams, the Tasmanian builder said.


Incat anticipates that all primary structures of its next shipbuilding projects will be developed using the SSI shipbuilding system.

“Incat has always been an innovator and once again we are demonstrating our approach to advanced technology solutions by adopting ShipConstructor to support this complex project,” said Stewart Wells, Incat’s Technical Manager. “SSI demonstrated an understanding of our challenges and how to effectively manage the design, modelling and data handling processes across all departments and disciplines.”

“Success with complex shipbuilding projects like Hull 096 calls for smarter information sharing across the shipyard, reducing waste and costs and generating a digital twin that can sustain lifecycle operations,” said Simon Crook, SSI’s Solutions Specialist. “This contract lays the foundation for a long-term relationship between SSI and Incat and demonstrates confidence that Incat’s engineers will have success with the new tool in a production environment from day one.”






BEMAC invests in The Switch


Japanese-based electronics company, BEMAC Corp is to acquire shares in Finland’s The Switch Engineering and its group companies in partnership with Mitsui & Co.


As majority shareholder, BEMAC together with Mitsui, has entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire 100% of The Switch shares from Yaskawa Europe Holding.


The Switch is involved in MW-class permanent magnet machines (PMMs) (pictured), DC distribution solutions, high-power AC drives and high-speed induction motors, and has delivered more than 22 GW of these products primarily for wind power and marine applications.


In recent years, with a focus on achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions by around 2050 as advocated by the IMO, the demand for large-sized vessel shaft generators and propulsion motors for electric powered ships has increased.


Since delivering the world’s first megawatt-class PM shaft generator in 2015, The Switch is currently the market leader in this segment, with its machine and drives product portfolio ranging from below 1 MW to over 10 MW.


The Switch DC-Hub is an efficient and future-flexible marine electrification solution for hybrid and fully electric vessels with multiple energy sources like batteries and fuel cells.


BEMAC specialises in distribution, control and monitoring technology for marine and industrial applications and holds a market share of over 50% in the Japanese shipbuilding industry.


Mitsui has a diverse business portfolio encompassing shipping and energy development, among others.









Kongsberg  delivers Hurtigruten’s emissions reduction
Kongsberg Maritime has claimed a 23% cut in CO2 emissions on Hurtigruten’s 121 m passenger vessel ‘Richard With.

She underwent an extensive refit last summer with Kongsberg Maritime engineering and technology and has now completed her first year back in service.

Last year, Kongsberg Maritime partnered with Myklebust Verft shipyard to convert three Hurtigruten coastal passenger ships to hybrid technology, aimed at reduced emissions and quieter operations.

The 1993-built ’Richard With, was the first of three ships to be relaunched, in August last year. The second ship. ‘Kong Harald’. returned to service in May, and the final ship, ‘Nordlys, will be refurbished in 2025.

This project was one of the largest of its kind in Europe, with an investment value of around €100 mill.

“We have built our last fossil fuel ship for the Norwegian Coastal Express,” said Hurtigruten Coastal Express CEO, Hedda Felin. “We had the opportunity to upgrade the fleet and give the ships the best of today’s technology. Plus, it’s more environmentally friendly to retrofit a vessel than to scrap and build a new one.”

‘Richard With’s’ refit programme included installing two hybrid shaft generators, two SaveEnergy 1.120 kWh lithium-ion batteries and two Bergen B33:45V engines. Also fitted were new tunnel thruster motors, a retractable azimuth thruster, and controllable pitch propeller blades, plus digital management systems.

“We can do the full turnover of a vessel in four or five months. An entirely newbuild takes much longer,” said Geir Oscar Løseth, Kongsberg Maritime’s Vice President of Sales Aftermarket Advanced Offerings.

“The vessel is also safer and smoother in the water. It gives the crew several layers of reassurance. They can operate on full battery, zero emission operation; they can run on auxiliary engines and they can run on main engines. So, there’s a high level of safety that meets the new requirements for lower-emission travel along the coast,” he said.

Shipowners and operators are working to deal with IMO regulations on emissions reduction, particularly for active vessels.

“Our role is going to be to guide customers through this transition, with advisory services, as well as the products and solutions, that will make sure regulations are met. But we won’t do that simply by coming up with new products and solutions. We also need to look into existing fleets,” said Lisa Edvardsen Haugan, Kongsberg Maritime President.