As vehicles steadily electrify on land, air and sea, some may be surprised to learn of a form of electric propulsion that has been mainstream in the maritime industry for a quarter of a century.
The Azipod electrical propulsion system, made by electronics giant ABB, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The Azipod system features an electric motor and propeller mounted in a streamlined pod beneath a ship. It’s capable of 360-degree movement, and can drive and steer a vessel at the same time.
According to ABB, Azipod reduces fuel consumption by up to 20%, and achieves decimeter-accurate maneuverability without the aid of tugboats. It is installed on a wide range of vessels, including the world’s largest cruise ship, huge crane vessels and a 105-meter superyacht. A new port icebreaker will feature four Azipod propulsion units, allowing the vessel to operate either bow or stern first.
According to Clarkson’s Research, the number of vessels with electric propulsion is growing at a pace of 12% per year.
“Our engineers continue to innovate to ensure Azipod propulsion meets the demands from a diverse range of ship owners. Much has changed in the shipping sector since we introduced the first Azipod, but the desire for efficiency, maneuverability and reliability remains the same,” said Juha Koskela, Managing Director of ABB’s Marine and Ports business.