ABB solutions chosen for Iceland’s first electric ferry

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Designed by Polarkonsult AS, the ferry is due for delivery later this year

A 70 m long hybrid electric ferry under construction for the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration at Poland’s Crist shipyard will feature a range of ABB integrated power and electric storage solutions.

The 70 m ong ferry, with a capacity of 550 passengers and 75 cars, will operate on a route known for its harsh weather conditions, making 3,600 trips a year in the rough waters between Landeyjahöfn on the mainland and the Westman Island, covering 13 km in about 45 minutes.

Designed by Harstad, Norway, based Polarkonsult AS, the vessel will feature a large battery pack (3,000 kWh) and is designed to operate in a fully electric mode for most of time, with onshore charging in both harbors. In particularly challenging weather conditions, when the consumption of battery power may exceed the available energy, the ferry will utilize its diesel-electric generator set.

The new ferry will replace the 1992-built MF Herjólfur in line with Iceland’s incentives to promote electric modes of transportation. With 80 percent of Iceland’s energy coming from non-fossil resources, led by hydropower and geothermal energy, the newbuilt vessel will be well positioned to support Iceland’s sustainability goals.

“Opting for ABB’s electric solutions allows the vessel to meet design constraints that initially seem in conflict: it is optimized for cleaner operation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, whilst power is sufficient to navigate some very hazardous waters safely,” said Sigurdur Gretarsson, Director of Maritime Division, Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.

ABB’s Onboard DC Grid power distribution system will allow the batteries to connect directly to the DC link, helping avoid losses of power during charging and discharging. Additionally, the system can allow for variable speed operation of the diesel engines, which results in reduced fuel consumption.

The scope of ABB supply also includes generators, transformers, switchboards, the Power and Energy Management System (PEMS) and the Energy Storage Control System (ESCS).

The ferry will also be connected to the ABB Ability Collaborative Centers Infrastructure. This network uses remote equipment monitoring and data analytics to enable remote technical support, as well as predictive maintenance and planned interventions.

The 2,500 kW shoreside power connection, also delivered by ABB, will, on average, recharge the battery in about 30 minutes.

“Selection of ABB’s technologies for a vessel operating on such a tough route, where the water depth is sometimes limited to 4.5 meters, but wave heights can reach 3.5 meters, sets a new benchmark for battery power on board a ship,” said Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports. “In line with our vision for electric, digital and connected shipping, this project demonstrates how system integration – whether on board the ship or between the ship’s crew and shoreside expertise – is a key success factor for vessel management.”

The new ferry will not only reduce the environmental impact, but also improve the regularity of the connection. Previously, during rough weather, the ferry operating the route would travel to an alternative harbor to dock safely, extending the sailing time from 45 minutes to close to 3 hours and causing motion sickness in passengers. The new ferry will be able to enter the destination harbor in challenging weather conditions most of the time, with the rare exception of particularly rough seas.

Polarkonsult AS
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