GE Power Conversion’s Technology Helps Make the Next Generation of Cruise Ships Cleaner and Greener


GE’s Power Conversion business announced that the latest addition to the MSC Cruises’ fleet, MSC Preziosa, has successfully completed sea trials that will move it closer to commissioning. The vessel is one of the newest cruise ships that is part of a growing global electrification trend that replaces mechanical equipment with electrical power generation and propulsion technology. Over the last year, passenger vessels have experienced a growth rate of 3.3 percent with 20.9 million passengers in 2012.

The growth forecast for the next five years is projected to be 3 percent with six new ships being built per year for the next three years. Electrical equipment on cruise lines improves the fuel efficiency, comfort, safety and reliability of the ships operations. Electrical technology helps cruise line owners operate cleaner and greener fleets around the globe.

Cruise shipping globally has seen steady growth over the last five years. As operational costs rise and new environmental legislation is implemented, there is a growing demand for innovative technology. One new trend in the industry is an increase in the number of cruise ships utilizing pod propulsion technology, helping to ensure that cruise ships can meet stringent environmental standards and operate at high efficiency.

Carnival Triumph

In addition, the need to reduce emissions and fuel consumption is driving ship owners and operators to specify propulsion systems that can deliver significant savings. By using GE’s power solutions and propulsion systems, they are benefiting from more space, less weight, improved hull efficiency, lower vibration and noise as well as reduced service costs and down time.

MSC Cruises is evidence of the global efficiency trend, having built four new ships with STX Europe in the past four years with the most recent, MSC Preziosa; which will have an ‘A’ Shipping Efficiency ranking, the same as its sister ship, MSC Divina. STX Europe selected GE Power Conversion for the design, manufacturing and commissioning of the propulsion system, five generators and six thrusters for MSC Preziosa.

Built from the STX yard in Saint-Nazaire, France, MSC Preziosa is the latest ship in MSC’s Fantasia class and the 12th in the MSC fleet. The vessel has successfully completed a series of sea trials including propulsion and maneuverability (speed ranges, full speed, crash stop, power plant and propulsion interactions, full/partial propulsion configurations) as well as noise and vibration measurements.

Briag Allain, propulsion technical function manager at STX Europe says, “This is the first time we participated in sea trials with such a high level of performance without any trips or incidents of the propulsion system and this is because of the product reliability, and also, GE Power Conversion has really gained the trust of STX Europe through their commitment to their customers.”

Continued trust and system reliability also is why the Fincantieri shipyard chose to work with GE for the new build Costa Diadema. GE led a consortium providing six alternators for the electrical generation system, high-voltage switchboards (11 kV) and transformers, thruster motors and for the propulsion plant, four transformers and converters and two low speed propulsion motors.

“GE’s expertise in the cruise industry stems from a strong understanding of industry requirements and the science of power conversion,” says Jean-Philippe Chaignot, merchant marine leader for GE’s Power Conversion business. “Through strong cooperation we were able to successfully work with the customers to adapt an existing propulsion plant to a new inboard architecture as well as reduce the environmental impact with a system prepared to be plugged to a shore connection.”

To further support the growing demands of the industry, GE Power Conversion has developed transformer-less systems and variable frequency networks. Transformer-less system are induction motors with PWM converters that are lighter and take up less space to deliver power with high efficiency. Due to the variable frequency network, the propulsion chain can be driven by diesel motors that can deliver significant fuel savings. Propulsion is delivered through fully rotating pods for increased hydrodynamics and better maneuverability.

GE Power Conversion is not only an equipment supplier. As a full service provider it can extend the operational life of a vessel with improved reliability. Project management teams that are on-site from the initial startup are on hand to install upgrades through the design and implementation of predictive maintenance programs. Emergency coverage, provided through service and performance contracts, also gives operators access to a dedicated help desk.

Cruise ships need to achieve the highest efficiency possible, GE Power Conversion service contracts allow operators to achieve that efficiency without driving up cost; by reducing maintenance, GE is able to potentially reduce expenses through continuous remote monitoring, which helps avoid unplanned downtime and reduces the frequency of repair work and identifying the need for specialty skills on an as needed basis. All in all, operators can enhance their workforce capabilities and operational skills through advance troubleshooting and can respond to an emergency, should it arise, with the expedience and skills that it requires, improving the overall safety performance of a vessel.

“GE Power Conversion is fast becoming a partner of choice for shipyards, owners and operators,” stated Paul English, GE’s Power Conversion, marine vertical leader. “We are a technology leader with proven equipment and systems that deliver measurable savings. As a flexible engineering partner with strong technical credentials, we have a record of supplying on time. One of our unique specialities is that we design and deliver complete integrated electrical and control systems packages in house—our single source approach significantly relieves shipbuilders of much of the technical and commercial risk and effort associated with managing and coordinating multiple individual equipment suppliers.”

GE’s Power Conversion business provides complete power and propulsion system packages, including power generation, electrical distribution and fixed or variable speed drives, including motors for propulsion, thrusters and specialist applications.

The company’s expertise in ship power and propulsion systems ranges from the manufacture and supply of power generation systems to integrated full electric propulsion systems and increasingly, hybrid propulsion systems.

An increasing number of merchant ships in many forms, as well as many of the world’s leading navies, are now employing some form of electric propulsion somewhere in their fleets—the decision-making process leading to the selection of this technology commonly follows detailed design studies supported by Power Conversion including feasibility studies into the various alternative propulsion concepts and an in depth analysis of technical, operational and through life support parameters.





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