The first electrically propelled liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, each at 174,000 cubic meters, to be built in China will incorporate power and propulsion systems developed and built by GE’s Power Conversion business (NYSE: GE). Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group, part of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, signed contracts with GE for the supply of power and propulsion systems for six LNG carriers that it will build in its shipyard in Shanghai for major Asian shipping companies, including China Shipping Group and Sinopec Kantons Holdings. The carriers, which will be used for transporting LNG from Australia to China, will be delivered between April 2016 and November 2017.
The decision to use dual-fuel diesel-electric (DFDE) propulsion for the new LNG carriers marks a turning point in propulsion systems for large LNG ships built in China where until now either steam turbines or two-stroke engine technology has been the norm. Electrical propulsion technology is more efficient and presents less of a burden on the environment due to lower fuel consumption and emissions. DFDE drive systems also are more compact than alternatives, enabling carriers to hold more cargo.
“GE has developed one of the world’s most reliable and cost-efficient power and propulsion solutions combining induction-based technology with a pulse width modulation (PWM) converter,” said Paul English, marine business leader for GE Power Conversion. “The combination of a single PWM drive and high-power direct-drive induction motor per shaft line is both simple to install and operate, has a very low maintenance requirement and is extremely reliable. We will provide Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group with technical support during the design phase of the systems and share our technical expertise on the DFDE solution.”
At Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group, Mrs. Jin Yan Zi, VP business and purchase says, “These important contracts for our next-generation LNG carriers mark the beginning of a new relationship with GE’s Power Conversion business. We look forward to a high level of cooperation that will benefit both parties.”
“GE regards these contracts as an important step in Power Conversion’s continued investments to support the marine industry in China,” added English.
GE will supply induction motors with PWM propulsion technology driven by electricity generated from high-efficiency “dual-fuel” engines that can run on natural gas, marine diesel gas or heavy fuel oil. The combination of dual-fuel engines, which can use boil-off gas from the carrier’s LNG tanks, and GE’s electrical variable-speed drives, presents a proven solution that is now commonly used on LNG carriers.
For each vessel, GE will supply two propulsion systems comprising of generators, main and cargo switchboards, transformers, MV7000 converters, motors and remote control. GE is responsible for design, engineering, commissioning, training and assistance for sea and gas trials.
According to China Shipping Group’s Managing Director/CEO Captain Xu Lirong,”China Shipping is confident in the choice to partner with GE. This is our first LNG carrier, and working with a strong partner like GE helps ensure the lifetime of the vessel. It was also important that we partner with a company who showcases a strong willingness to invest and expand its marine business in China, and GE was able to meet our requirements.”