The concept appears to be sound, the enabling technologies are achievable, and the opportunity is now available to initiate a major change in the generation and use of electric power aboard ship. The benefits to the naval forces could be significant and far reaching. Advances in materials used in electromagnetic machinery, such as high-field permanent magnets and high-temperature superconductors, present opportunities for substantial increases in power density and efficiency. The electric ship approach is enabled by the ongoing revolution in electronics where advancements in solid-state semiconductor technology are being applied to power semiconductor devices. The emergence of direct electric conversion technologies, such as fuel cells, offers potential for fuel-efficient, low-emission, and low-noise sources of electrical power.
Within the plan, the Department of the Navy's integrated propulsion system (IPS) architecture will allow incorporation of developing technologies such as permanent magnet (PM) electric machines, fuel cells, and the power electronic building block (PEBB) architecture into future ship designs as programmed, preplanned replacements for the core technology in the first-generation IPS modules. Use of technology-independent module interface standards will facilitate technology insertion with minimum impact on the ship design and construction process.
IPS with electric propulsion motors allows for consideration of integrated motor and propulsor concepts. The steerable podded propulsor provides the greatest potential for meeting naval hydrodynamic and hydroacoustic requirements while also being competitive with conventional propulsors on commercial ships.
The benefits of ship electrification are as follows: