Many cruise operators, wishing to reduce emissions, are beginning to see the benefits of hybrid diesel-electric engines. Peter Andersen, managing director of E-powered Marine Solutions, explains how the company's pioneering E-PP concept creates efficiencies, saves money and improves a vessel's green credentials.
When the Viking River Cruises Viking Legend set sail in 2009, the ship was notable for more than just its sleek appearance. As the first vessel on the line to incorporate hybrid diesel-electric engines, it lowered emissions by 20% while reducing noise and vibrations.
In doing so, it set a template for future ships to follow. Viking Prestige (2011) boasted the same green technology, followed by the new Viking Longships class in 2012. By the middle of 2014, the technology in question will have been installed on 26 five-star river cruise vessels.
Known as the E-PP concept, this pioneering system was developed and implemented by engineering company E-powered Marine Solutions (E-MS). Designed to cope with changeable energy requirements, it received the River Cruise Innovation Award in 2011 and was patented the following year.
"The E-PP concept is the innovative diesel electric network and propulsion solution for offshore and supply vessels, megayachts, river cruise vessels and all special vessels," says Peter Andersen, managing director of E-MS. "I developed the system in response to a request from Viking River Cruises, because they needed a compact and efficient propulsion system that would fit into their really small machinery compartments."
While there are many other diesel-electric systems on the market, the E-PP concept represented a radical break with tradition. It takes up 20-30% less space than conventional applications, minimising cabling and simplifying engineering.
Crucially, this compactness boosts the engine's green credentials. Because wastage is reduced, less fuel is required and less carbon dioxide is emitted. What is more, because electricity from solar panels and wind power can be fed into the overall system, it works well in the context of an eco-friendly vessel design.
There are many other advantages to the E-PP system. It benefits from dynamic driving control and improved manoeuvrability, and allows the ship to move at speeds up to 22km/h upstream. It also eliminates the need to synchronise the generators, thereby improving their individual performance.
"Due to the technical topology of this concept, we are able to run all diesel generators with a variable speed, which means each diesel functions at its optimal operating point," explains Andersen. "This is currently not possible with diesel engines at a fixed speed."
Reliability is paramount. The system incorporates current and voltage transformers for measurement, fault analysis and protection, as well as remote diagnostics for real-time system monitoring. Because all the technical and operational data is automatically logged, there is great scope for ongoing improvement. And, if a fault occurs, the affected part of the plant is quickly disconnected.
"Our real-time monitoring system means we can identify faults and problems online - there's nobody else who can do that at the moment," says Andersen. "We can do this from our office, or the owner, can do it by themselves and ask for the relevant service people to resolve the problem. They can save time and money due to the high effectiveness of service and maintenance."
With 28 years' experience in the field, E-MS is able to offer a comprehensive range of supplementary services to project development companies, shipping companies and shipyards. It keeps a keen eye on customers' individual requirements, which are evolving all the time as sustainability climbs the agenda.
Tomorrow's customers can no longer afford to compromise on efficiency. Through maximising performance, the E-PP takes a leading role in reducing emissions and improving the vessel's carbon footprint.
"Due to the current situation in the market with the big suppliers, customers are opting for solutions that can fulfil their environmental requirements," says Andersen. "This means fuel saving, reduction of installed equipment, and efficient service and maintenance to make sure the equipment performs optimally. We support owners in developing the perfect tailor-made solution for their vessels."