Innovative vessel charging and mooring

11 Jul 2016
 Crucially – and in one of the key features of this system – charging can begin before the vessel is fully moored

Crucially – and in one of the key features of this system – charging can begin before the vessel is fully moored

Cavotec has entered into an agreement with Wärtsilä to develop innovative wireless charging and automated mooring technologies that should deliver substantial reductions in environmental impact for operators worldwide.

Earlier this year, Cavotec and Wärtsilä announced a co-operation agreement to develop the world’s first integrated marine wireless charging and automated mooring concept. The agreement incorporates Wärtsilä’s innovative wireless vessel charging system, which is based on inductive power transfer, (IPT), and incorporates Cavotec’s automated mooring technology MoorMaster. 

Market interest in this solution has already been confirmed with the first prototype scheduled for installation in Norway during the first half of 2017.

The IPT sequence 

Cavotec and Wärtsilä have combined four MoorMaster vacuum pads and one IPT plate to achieve what is claimed to be the fastest automated mooring and charging sequence in the industry to date. This unprecedented speed supports key industry objectives of optimising the number of battery packs on the berth and vessel to reduce the overall cost of investment in terms of a number of factors such as battery cost, vessel weight, and heat load.As ferries approach the berth, the IPT system readies for the charging and mooring sequence. 

Crucially – and in one of the key features of this system – charging can begin before the vessel is fully moored, thereby generating significant time savings, which in fast turn-around ferry service settings are especially relevant. An advanced detection system determines when the IPT unit is within an appropriate range to the vessel, and once 75% of the surface area of the charging plates on the ship and MoorMaster are overlapping, charging starts. 

Operators focus on manoeuvring the ferry along the berth, and once in position, a number of vacuum pads – typically around four for the size of ferry envisaged in this co-operation – extend, and attach to the vessel’s hull, achieving safe, secure mooring within 30 seconds.

At departure, a signal received from the bridge or ramp prompts the MoorMaster vacuum pads to retract from the vessel within 10 seconds. The charging sequence ends when the induction plates are no longer within acceptable operational limits.

MoorMaster: challenging the conventional

MoorMaster is a vacuum-based automated mooring technology that eliminates the need for conventional mooring lines. Remote controlled vacuum pads recessed in, or mounted on the quayside or pontoons, moor and release vessels in seconds.The system dramatically improves safety and operational efficiency, and in many cases enables ports to make considerable infrastructure savings. 

To date, some 200MoorMaster units have performed some 200,000 mooring operations at 30 – soon to be 42 – ferry, bulk handling, Ro/Ro, container and lock applications worldwide.The vacuum units hold vessels at set distances from the berth, thereby avoiding the need for ships to be repositioned along the quay – resulting in operational improvements and reduced emissions from ships and tugs.

Innovation in practice

Separately, Cavotec has recently received an order to supply equipment for an automated mooring and charging applications in Finland, a project where Cavotec will manufacture,install, and commission two combined automated mooring and battery charging systems for an electric hybrid passenger ferry application in southwest Finland.

This application integrates MoorMaster; AMP systems, and Cavotec’s Automatic Plug-inSystem, (APS). APS automates the connection of cranes, ships and other mobile equipment to electrical power using cable reels, thereby expanding the potential use of mobile electrical equipment. The system also generates cost savings and improved safety standards.

“Cavotec’s APS enables the fully automated connection of electrical power to the vessel at the touch of a button, and MoorMaster holds the ferry in position allowing the captain to switch off its thrusters while the ferry is loaded and unloaded,” explains Benny Törnroos, managing director of Cavotec Finland.

Similar to the Cavotec systems that already moor and charge a battery-powered passenger ferry at two berths in Norway, two MoorMaster MM200 units will be installed at the Parainen and Nauvo berths, (one unit at each berth), along with two AMP charging towers. The MoorMaster unit signals to the AMP unit when the ship is securely moored, and a laser sensor then guides the AMP connector to a hatch in the side of the vessel where it connects to the ship’s battery unit to begin charging.

The electric hybrid ferry, which will be operated by FinFerries, will be approximately 90m in length, 16m wide, and will be able to carry up to 90 cars. It is due to enter service in summer 2017. The vessel will make crossings – at 15-minute intervals during the day, and one round trip per hour at night – throughout the year and in all weather conditions.

At the Norway application, which has been in operation since spring 2015, the system is used with the 80m battery-powered ZeroCat ‘Ampere’ catamaran run by Norwegian ferry operator Norled. By using MoorMaster, the ZeroCat’s propeller system is switched off for nine minutes during each 10-minute boarding process, thereby giving sufficient time to connect to the charging system and charge the on-board batteries for the next crossing.

The Norled and FinFerries applications are attracting interest in the maritime sector, and have the potential to be adopted by a large number of similar ferry routes in Norway and many more beyond. APS is also gaining plaudits from the industry. It won the inaugural Innovation of the Year Award at the Electric & Hybrid World Expo 2014, an event that “honoured the world’s finest engineers, innovations and products in the electric and hybrid marine arena.”

In another recent passenger ferry-related development for MoorMaster, this time in the UK, Wightlink Ferries is to introduce the system at two of its passenger and vehicle ferry berths in Portsmouth, (on the mainland), and Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight.The introduction of MoorMaster will allow Wightlink’s new, larger vessel to use the existing berth at Portsmouth, without having to make a costly extension to it, which would have also caused difficulties for manoeuvring vessels.

Co-operation in Norway

Separately, in Norway, Cavotec has joined a group of engineers, investors, and representatives from the maritime sector to support the expansion of the use of electrically powered ships in the Nordic country.The project, named ReCharge, is headed by leading certification and classification group DNV GL. Along with Cavotec, Port of Oslo is also partnering on the project, together with Enova, a technology- and data analytics online lending company, which is contributing almost half of the project’s total NOK 1.45 million budget.

ReCharge will review the practicalities of expanding the availability of shore power at Norway’s ports, and research different power systems, such as battery-powered vessels and hybrids. 

Shore power, or cold ironing, is the process of connecting ships in port to the electrical grid and switching off their engines. This reduces emissions of NOx, SOx, and particulate matter. Cavotec has extensive experience of the design, manufacture and installation of high and low voltage ship-based, shore-based, and mobile shore power, or Alternative Maritime Power (AMP) systems. The Group first started working with AMP in the 1980s in Sweden,and has since supported customers worldwide with the technology. 

ReCharge conveners say that they want to see Norway become the world leader in environmentally-friendly ships. And while Norway is not an EU state, improved availability of shore power would keep it in line with conditions of an EU directive that requires all EU ports to make shore power available by 2025. According to DNV GL, some 40 hybrid ships are currently on order for Norwegian shipping lines, with a similar number of plug-in hybrid vessels also due to enter service in the coming years.

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Wärtsilä Corporation

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