Shipboard DC systems, a Critical Overview: Challenges in Primary Distribution, Power Electronics-based Protection, and Power Scalability

Alejandro Latorre*, Thiago Batista Soeiro, Rinze Geertsma, Andrea Coraddu, Henk Polinder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
157 Downloads (Pure)


This article gives an overview of challenges in primary distribution, protections, and power scalability for shipboard dc systems. Given that dc technology is in development, several aspects of shipboard systems have not yet been sufficiently devised to ensure the protection and efficiency demanded. Several issues in dc systems arise from the lack of complete relevant standardization from different regulation bodies. Unipolar and bipolar bus architectures have application-specific advantages that are discussed and compared. The placement of power electronics in dc systems creates opportunities for switchboard design, and this article compares the centralized and distributed approaches. Likewise, protection architectures for shipboard dc systems have challenges. Breaker-based protection utilizes slow fuses, mechanical circuit breakers, and solid-state circuit breakers. In addition, power-electronics-based protection embeds the protective circuit in the power converters, but its development lags. This article compares the state-of-the-art technologies, reviewing their main features. Finally, the power requirement of various applications and the low production rate of vessels force the designers to utilize commercial off-the-shelf converters to scale up power. The misuse of such converters, the modular topologies, and power electronics building blocks are exposed highlighting challenges and opportunities toward the mass adoption of dc systems onboard maritime vessels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-286
JournalIEEE Open Journal of the Industrial Electronics Society
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Circuit breakers
  • DC circuit breakers
  • DC systems
  • Industrial electronics
  • Marine vehicles
  • Power electronics
  • power electronics building blocks
  • power electronics-based protection
  • power scalability
  • Power system stability
  • Propulsion
  • Scalability
  • shipboard DC systems


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