ABB and Fincantieri have signed an agreement to cooperate on the construction, marketing and supply of high-voltage shore connection (HVSC) systems to provide electricity to vessels in port. The two companies were already collaborating on a joint venture through Seastema SpA, for the design and development of integrated automation systems for the marine sector.

HVSC systems enable ships to draw electricity from onshore power grids while in port to operate onboard equipment such as refrigeration units, lighting, cooling and heating systems, without burning fuel oil.

Many harbor facilities are considering shore-to-ship connections as a way to reduce emissions in ports. Shore connections are already available at ports in North America — Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco and San Diego in the state of California, U.S.A., and at ports in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., and Juneau, Alaska, U.S.A., and in
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In Europe, shore connections are already available in Germany, Sweden, Finland and Holland.

“ABB delivered the world’s first shore connection to the port of Gothenburg, Sweden, in January 2000,” said Veliatti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s process automation division. “By combining our know-how and innovative capabilities with the leading shipbuilder, Fincantieri, we can develop reliable solutions that will lower the environmental impact of shipping.”

It has been calculated that for a large cruise ship on a 10-hour stay in port, a shore connection can cut fuel consumption by up to 20 tonnes and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions  by 60 tonnes. In Sweden, shore connections have reduced annual CO2 emissions in the ports of Gothenburg, Stockholm, Helsingborg and Pitea by 6000 tonnes annually, according to the
Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL.

ABB’s HVSC system is particularly suited for ships operating on dedicated routes and vessels that consume large amounts of power when berthed. This includes cruise ships and ferries, but also LNG carriers, tankers and containerships. HVSC by ABB is an integrated system that encompasses electrical infrastructure on ships (retrofit and new installations), electrical infrastructures in ports and connection and control solutions to ensure personnel safety
and a seamless power transfer.

ABB’s high-voltage shore connection (HVSC) system is a modular and flexible system that can be adapted to the requirements of each project.

The system has been designed by ABB to comply with new international standards. A shore connection panel manages a smooth synchronization and load transfer of the shore power without interruption to onboard services.

The HVSC can be operated in two modes a remote auto mode and a local auto mode where
the breaker is controlled from an operator on the panel. The panel is delivered by ABB as a finished cabinet solution with a power module and a control module. Knut Marquart, head of ABB`s port solutions for group accounts, described the sequence to connect a vessel to shore
power. “After the vessel has berthed, power and control cables are connected. Then the last running engine is synchronized with the shore power grid. After the shore connection circuit breaker is closed, the generator is off-loaded and the engine is stopped.”

When the vessel leaves the port, the sequence is reversed. “The first engine is started and synchronized with the shore power grid. After the load is transferred to the generator, the shore connection opens and power and control cables are disconnected,” concluded Marquart.

The system allows several vessels to be connected simultaneously and frequency converters enable the supply of 50 or 60 Hz, regardless of local grid frequency. In addition, ABB’s frequency converters ensure reactive power compensation and voltage control to help stabilize the local grid. ABB offers complete system studies to assess the impact of shore connection on the local grid and to recommend optimized solutions to upgrade and strengthen the local grid and port network.

From the shipyard point of view, Andrea Qualizza, head of Electrical System & Automation in Fincantieri’s Merchant Ship business unit, explained that the installation of HVSC is a major and critical operation that needs careful planning. “The complexity does not really lie in the number of components to install, but in the interface between the new HVSC system and the existing safety systems of the power generating units aboard  the power management system, the automatic voltage regulation, the integrated automation and control system,” said Qualizza.

He further commented, “Concerning the space requirements onboard a cruise ship with medium voltage power generation, we will need a panel for the grounding to be installed in the boarding area where there usually already is a room of 4×4 metric tons available. Then one must install an additional panel, coherent with the technology of the ship’s main electrical panel.

“It is also necessary to have a hatch on the ship’s side to allow the access of the power cables from the outside. Very important is also to have a security system to monitor the mechanical tension of the cable from the shore during the connection, in order to ensure the highest safety to the operators also in case of movements of the ship.”

Qualizza said that in the case of ferries, it is also necessary to install a transformer from low to medium voltage, in order to align to the IEC international standards of harbors that always work with medium voltage. All of Fincantieri’s most recently built vessels, as well as those in order — both in the cruise and the ferry lines  are equipped with spaces and connections in order to make the eventual installation of an HVSC system as smooth as possible.

Part of the installation job can also be carried out at sea. Qualizza said the experience gathered with ABB allows an equally easy installation of the HVSC system on vessels by other shipyards, and begins with a detailed study of the power generation system onboard.


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