Norwegian Electric Systems (NES), part of Havyard Group, has developed an innovative electrical system based on existing technology but combined in a new way with new software applications.
The new system, Odin’s Eye, is intended to challenge current DC grid systems by reducing equipment requirements and improving battery efficiency and reliability.
NES senior vice president for sales, Paul Winson told Norwegian Solutions: “It is the biggest thing in electrical solutions since the introduction of the first diesel-electric systems. Imagine a solution like the Onboard DC Grid system and all its benefits but with much higher levels of redundancy. And it will only cost you the same as conventional diesel-electric system, and possibly cheaper.”
According to NES, Odin’s Eye is an evolution of existing solutions. Marine electrical solutions have been changing gradually over time through lessons learned from past failures and accidents. Class societies and other maritime organisations have demanded changes to increase safety. As electrical systems became increasingly safer, they became less efficient in fuel usage. That has changed with the introduction of Odin’s Eye.
Delivering two-split switchboards was the norm for many years but that meant making generator sets and some thruster motors oversized, which added to inefficiency. Then a third switchboard was introduced, which increased redundancy of the electrical and propulsion system but did little to improve the fuel efficiency of the generator sets being used.
NES developed an affordable ring net electrical solution, allowing each generator set and thruster to have its own switchboard. All the switchboards could work independently with open bus ties, or together with closed bus ties. This reduced the need to oversized generator sets and thruster motors, saving weight and capital costs. If a switchboard failed, only one generator set and thruster would be lost from the system, instead of half the number of installed generators and thrusters. This was a major step forward in safety and vessel capability, but it did little to increase fuel efficiency.
The introduction of DC grid solutions was almost a step back in time, but it allowed variable speed generator sets to be used instead of inefficient fixed speed generator sets and gave fuel savings. However, the variable speed range was limited and the DC grid net, which replaced the conventional switchboard, returned to being a two-split solution. This meant, again, oversizing the generator sets and some thruster motors, making DC grid solutions expensive. Customers were left unsure about how fast they would recoup their extra investment through fuel savings.
NES looked for another way to make savings. Since DC grids are, basically, elaborate frequency drives, it looked at ways to develop its successful Quadro Drive. Stretching the DC link within the Quadro Drive meant that it could function like a DC grid with generator sets and thruster motors connected to it, but the challenge was how to connect all the independent DC grids. NES already had its ring net solution working on some seven self-propelled jack-up barges, but that was an AC network, not a DC network.
NES came up with a way of connecting the independent grids together and testing on the existing Quadro Drive technology showed the results were better than expected. Without having to develop new hardware, NES turned the ring net solution into a new DC ring net solution, Odin’s Eye.
The solution means that variable speed generator sets can be used with a wide speed range. It produces both potential fuel efficiency and an increase in system safety. A major benefit is ultra-rapid short circuit protection.
In addition, by eliminating a main switchboard and using existing proven technology, Odin’s Eye costs about the same as a conventional diesel-electric system.
The name derives from Norse mythology in which Odin, the ruler of Åsgard, had only one eye, having sacrificed the other to gain wisdom to save the world. Whether NES’s solution saves the world remains to be seen, but the company believes it offers a revolutionary solution to a long-standing challenge.