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Tuesday, April 6, 2021 

ABB says that since the first application of its Azipod podded electric propulsion system on Finnish icegoing vessel 'Seili' in 1991, the system has been applied throughout the maritime sector, with over 25 different vessel types relying on Azipod technology from cruise ships to cargo carriers, icebreakers, ferries and superyachts - amounting to over 700 units, clocking up over 20m hours.

The company reports an availability rate of 99.9%, while in the cruise sector alone, the use of Azipods rather than conventional propulsion, has been estimated at saving about 1,000,000t of fuel.

ABB CEO Björn Rosengren said: “ABB has played a pioneering role in electric transportation for more than a century. The launch of the Azipod technology in 1991 marked a new era in ship propulsion and has firmly established ABB’s contribution to reducing the environmental impact of the maritime industry. I am convinced that this state-of-the-art technology will continue to play a major part in supporting our role as a front runner in sustainable transportation.”

Azipod propulsion has been instrumental in powering the largest cruise vessels as well as enabling the first crossings of the Northern Sea Route for tankers without icebreaker assistance.

Juha Koskela, Division President, ABB Marine & Ports, said: “Azipod technology will help any vessel type cut cost and carbon footprint, both because it is a superior propulsion solution and because it further improves the greater efficiency inherent in electric propulsion. An independent study in 2019 showed that Azipod propulsion could help ferry owners save US$1.7m in annual fuel costs per vessel while cutting CO2 emissions by approximately 10,000t. With International Maritime Organization’s goal to halve greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 2050, I am confident that Azipod propulsion will be driving sustainable shipping in 30 years’ time, and beyond.”

With the electric drive motor housed within a pod outside the ship hull, the Azipod system can rotate 360 degrees, increasing manoeuvrability and allowing large vessels to dock in harbours where turning circles are restricted. Azipod is claimed to improve operating efficiency, boosting hydrodynamic performance and cutting fuel consumption by up to 20% compared with a traditional shaftline setup. Space saved by locating the motor outside the ship allows for more flexible design and frees up space for cabins, cargo or other features.

Azipod propulsion was initially designed as a future-proof system able to adapt to virtually any energy source. With the electric drive motor at its core, the Azipod system can be powered by electricity drawn from different energy sources including batteries and fuel cells, and shipowners can add or exchange power sources as they evolve. Electrical power minimises engine noise and vibration, providing a smoother, quieter ride. The combination of the Azipod system and ABB’s electric propulsion setup makes it possible to configure the equipment for optimised performance, resulting in increased efficiency and lower emissions, as well as the possibility of predictive maintenance and remote technical support.

Azipod power ranges from 1MW to 22MW per unit, with successive generations having been refined for enhanced hydrodynamics, space efficiency and structural strength, and for easier installation and maintenance. ABB says that some 95% of the material used in the production of Azipod units is recyclable, further enhancing its sustainability credentials.

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