Yaskawa Environmental Energy and The Switch have developed an effective solution to the age-old challenge of generating electricity on board ships. The shipping industry has faced this challenge for over 150 years, but new protocols and regulations, such as the International Maritime Organisation’s rules, mean vessel owners and operators now need to find ways to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. Propulsion is an area with obvious room for improvement, with shaft generators playing a significant role in modern propulsion systems. But what is a shaft generator, and how can it help to reduce fuel use and lower emissions?
Shaft generators transmit power directly from the main engine, which is already supplying propulsion, to create the electricity required on board a ship. This removes the need for gensets and auxiliary engines, resulting in less fuel consumption and fewer emissions. The conventional shaft generator has been around since the 1960s, with the introduction of frequency converters in the 1980s enabling it to operate much more efficiently.
However, conventional shaft generators still have shortcomings. Permanent magnet shaft generators from Yaskawa Environmental Energy and The Switch have overcome some of these and are more fuel-efficient. They use Neodymium magnets, allowing the magnetic field to be created more simply and efficiently without requiring external power. The lack of wearing parts adds to their reliability, and their reduced size and efficiency make them more cost-effective over a vessel’s typical lifespan.
Investing in permanent magnet shaft generators can result in fuel savings of 2% to 4%, along with a reduction in emissions. With more stringent emissions regulations coming into force, the drive for exciting new technologies is as strong as ever. As the shipping industry continues to face challenges, solutions like permanent magnet shaft generators will become more necessity than luxury, providing significant financial and environmental benefits.
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