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The Switch: Green revolution in the offing

Vantaa: The coming five years will see a dramatic green change in shipping, argues the head of Finnish new energy firm, The Switch, in today’s Maritime CEO profile.
Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen is the president and ceo of The Switch, a company focused on alternative energy and involved in many sectors other than marine. Being involved in plenty of other sectors gives Mäkinen opinions on how shipping can buck up its green credentials.
In wind turbine designs, for instance, there has been a rapid transition to advanced drive trains that include permanent magnet (PM) machines and variable speed drives. The drivers behind this development have been the needs for higher power and lower levelized cost of energy.
The Switch has already delivered machines up to 8.6 MW. Today, the trend is towards lower speeds of 10-20 rpm direct drives and 100-400 rpm medium-speed drives. Earlier in the wind power industry, however, the machines were running at 1,500 rpm. These lower speeds offer better operational reliability over the lifetime of the equipment and a simpler gearbox construction.
“Now, these same machine-drive train combinations are available also for use in marine applications,” says Mäkinen.
For the maritime industry, The Switch has developed tailor-made concepts products for variable-speed generation, electric propulsion, shaft generator and winches.
“There are currently many drivers that are pushing towards greener technology,” Mäkinen says of the shipping industry. “That’s why,” he continues, “we believe that over the next five years a major shift will take place in the maritime industry. At that time, non-green ships will be too expensive to run, and they will not be welcome any longer at many harbours.”
This turnaround then is potentially good news for The Switch.  [05/02/14]

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