Technical feature: New generation marine electricity

Asbjørn Halsebakke of Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch discusses the maritime application for the company’s next-generation DC-Hub with its unique Electronic DC Circuit Breaker (EDCB) and Electronic Bus Link (EBL).

  • Your company is starting to talk about its next-gen DC-Hub. Can you give an overview of the evolution of this product with a glimpse of what makes it unique?

I think one of the main features of marine products and the DC-Hub is that you have to think about personal safety first. You need to think about how to make sure everything is in safe mode. And if you have a critical fault, you must disconnect. This is what we are able to do with our EBL and EDCB. With the Electronic DC Breaker (EDCB), we can disconnect a module in 10 microseconds; faster than any fuse, faster than any circuit breaker. Anyone who’s ever been on a ship knows that if everything goes black, it’s a scary situation. Using our electronic DC circuit breaker, a fault will only disconnect that fault. So you can keep your main propulsion, tunnel thrusters (and other critical systems) running. But you can still have a critical fault on your main DC link.

  • In concrete terms, what advantages do the EDCB and EBL offer the end user?

It’s much easier, because if you have a fault, you don’t have to go downstairs and change a fuse. You can just hit reset on the bridge and try again. If it’s not a critical fault, you’re good to go. What is very important with our EBL is that it gives the possibility to introduce a new DC-Hub. When I speak with ship owners today, one of the main concerns of ships under construction today is that they know the energy sources will change over the lifetime of the ship, but today, they do not know exactly what this source of energy will be.

By having our EBL in the DC-Hub, we can connect a new DC-Hub in the system which could then have the new energy source that will arrive 5, 10, 15 years later.

It could be a fuel cell, a new engine, or maybe something we’re not even discussing today. The key to the future (and to maintaining good value and a long vessel life) is to be flexible.

“That’s what we are able to do with our EBLs and EDCBs. With the Electronic DC Breaker (EDCB), we can disconnect a module in 10 microseconds; faster than any fuse, faster than any circuit breaker. Asbjørn Halsebakke, Yaskawa Environmental Energy/The Switch

  • Is the new DC-Hub installed on a ship today?

Yes it is. The first installation we did was installed and commissioned during one of the very bad COVID times here in Europe during the summer of 2021. We had to do a lot of the commissioning over the phone. We have six more ships coming.

  • When you look at the world today, where do you see the best prospects for this solution by ship type?

This has been a fairly rapid development of DC-Hubs, and today almost all of our offers and all of our deliverers are with the DC-Hub. I believe most ships can benefit from having a DC-Hub on board.

I don’t believe all ships should have a full DC system, as all ships today do, where it’s better to have a mix of AC and DC systems, but the more power source you have on the batteries , on fuel cells, on variable speed motors, better to have it on a DC-Hub.

So there are many types of ships that can benefit from it. We are seeing interest in a wide variety of vessel types, from tankers to fast passenger ferries and reefers; even the new Navy ships we can see are coming in the DC-Hub configuration. We believe this makes everything much easier for the ship owner to achieve the goals that IMO sets for making ships more environmentally friendly.

  • Watch the full interview with Asbjørn Halsebakke on Maritime Reporter TV