Yaskawa signs five-year marine supply contract with ABB

By Becky Schultz08 September 2022

16 permanent magnet shaft generators are to be installed for ABB Marine & Ports in dry cargo container vessels

The Switch PMM2000M permanent magnet shaft generator has potential as electric propulsion to accelerate the marine industry’s green transition. (Photo: Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch)

Marine electric drivetrain specialist Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch announced it has signed a five-year global sourcing agreement with ABB Marine & Ports in Shanghai for its next-generation PMM2000M permanent magnet machines for use as shaft generators in large containerships. The first order for 16 machines, each with a power output of more than 4 MW, will be installed as permanent magnet shaft generators (PMSGs) for dry cargo container vessels.

The inline, direct-drive Switch PMM2000M is specifically designed for large container vessels powered by two-stroke engines, where shaft generator power output is often 4 to 5 MW. The over 5-meter-diameter PMM2000Ms has an operational speed of approximately 50 to 80 rpm. As a PMSG, it offers advantages such as low weight, high efficiency and high power density, as well as simple installation.

Advantages of PMSGs

The company initially marketed The Switch direct-drive PMMs to the wind industry, where the machines have significantly improved turbine efficiency. It then 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. It later offered the newly developed frame size of 1,500 mm machines for LNG carriers.

Ships utilizing the PMSGs can achieve reduced energy consumption and lower emissions, while increasing the amount of electricity available for other fuel-saving systems, such as air compressors for hull air lubrication, the company stated. In addition, the ships won’t require an additional source of electrical energy during long ocean voyages.

“This reduces gen-set wear and tear as gen-sets can stay off,” said Risto Ahvo, head of key account management at Yaskawa Environmental Energy / The Switch. “Its mechanical simplicity also increases reliability and lowers maintenance requirements. A further characteristic is low vibration levels.”

The PMM2000Ms can be fitted to comply with EEXI and CII regulation parameters coming into effect in 2023.

Opportunities for growth

Stators will be produced in China and other components in the EU. Due to their complexity, all assembly work on the units will take place at The Switch’s Large Drive Test Center (LDTC) in Lappeenranta, Finland.

“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,” said Ahvo. “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.”

The contract with ABB represents the first long-term supply agreement for Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch 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 its own merits,” Ahvo commented.

“The contract also takes us deeper into the Asian market,” he noted, “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.”

Ahvo sees this kind of supplier-vendor collaboration on energy-saving equipment as an optimal means 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.”

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