Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cruise Ship Backup Power With Green Design (innovation)

February 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Port Services & Renewables

For the past few years the cruise industry has experienced at least one major power failure of a cruise ship at sea. Two recent examples of power failure were engine room fires that destroyed control electronics for primary and secondary systems.

The fires left thousands of passengers without power and adrift. Seas were calm and there was no serious threat of collision or grounding.

Sanitation and fresh food became an issue in both incidents. Passengers endured several days of contact with raw sewage from overflowing toilets on one ship while having limited supplies of food and fresh water.

The damage to the cruise industry is significant in this time of social media and unfiltered passenger documentation. Passenger compensation is usually a full refund plus a complimentary trip at a later date. Carnival Triumph passengers were also given a cash payment for their ongoing turmoil.

According to passenger video aboard the Carnival Triumph there was raw sewage flowing across the deck and over the side of the ship as it listed slightly. This is still uncontrolled black water discharge even if the sewage took a unusual path to the sea.

When you add up all of this bad press and liability you get added pressure on an industry that is already under financial pressure from increasingly strict regulations. The most recent major legislation in the United States is the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security law of 2010.

The flagships of major lines are adding the reserve power needed to assure passenger safety and comfort. Oasis of the Seas and her sister ship, Allure of the Seas are huge ships with backup systems that might not run every decorative fountain but provide most of the amenities to passengers in emergencies.

This is part of the design of these ships since their towing needs are massive and might not be met for several days in some locations. The tow speed would be very slow as well, maybe around one or two knots per hour. Free food and drink during the tow might make passengers secretly wish for a mechanical failures.

We Have the Technology

We have the means to fit out our next generation of cruise ships with sustainable power systems that have grid independence.

The simple solution is solar photovoltaic panels, and more large vessels are utilizing these systems for efficiency. Photovoltaic costs continue to fall and surveyors and insurers are not as hesitant about these systems as they were in the past.

The investment for a cruise ship sized system is still very large. Costs are around two or three dollars US per watt of power. Battery costs are significant up front and as a maintenance item. More stringent safety considerations need to be addressed since the panels will be in closer proximity to passengers and crew than they would be in an industrial or residential solar photovoltaic system.

There are other opportunities for sustainable power on board other than solar electrics. Solar thermal is a good choice for heating the various swimming pools and hot tubs. It could also be used in a reverse cycle heating and cooling system for vessels that have warm and cold routes. High efficiency lighting with LED’s can reduce power loads significantly while maintaining good lighting design.

The Selling Point

The proposition of backup power on board is a good selling point right now. Potential passengers are getting wary of situations like the Carnival Triumph.

Since marketers must admit that the ship could lose power to make this a selling point it is not a good long term strategy.

The idea of sustainable energy at home is well accepted among demographic segments likely to take a high end or luxury cruise. The idea that a ship is fitted with the same technology as a well appointed home is a common approach to cruise marketing. With the increased interest in home backup power systems brought on by recent severe storms it is likely passengers will expect the same level of service at sea.

Partial sustainable power is a great selling point and a good example of a situation where will gladly pay a premium for a reduced environmental impact.

Solar electric is able to offset a significant portion of generation capacity and will lead to fuel savings. The raw economics are not quite influential enough to move designers and naval architects right now. If you factor in the economics of customer sentiment then the decision is made much easier.

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