Iceland’s first electric ferry is due to be delivered this year – and battery power will help it overcome the challenges of harsh weather conditions on its route.
ABB will supply integrated power and electric storage solutions to the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration’s new ferry that will take 3,600 annual trips in the rough waters between Landeyjahöfn on the mainland and Westman Island, covering 13 km in about 45 minutes.
The 70 m-long ferry, with capacity for 550 passengers and 75 cars, is designed by Polarkonsult and is due for delivery from the Crist SA shipyard this year. The vessel will feature a large battery pack (3,000 kWh) and is designed to operate in a fully electric mode most of time, with onshore charging in both harbours. During particularly challenging weather conditions, when consuming battery power may exceed the available energy, the ferry will use its diesel-electric generator set.
The new ferry will replace 1992-built Herjólfur in line with Iceland’s incentives to promote electric modes of transportation.
“Opting for ABB’s electric solutions allows the vessel to meet design constraints that initially seem in conflict: it is optimised for cleaner operation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, while power is sufficient to navigate some very hazardous waters safely,” said Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration director of maritime division Sigurdur Gretarsson.
ABB said its power distribution system Onboard DC Grid will ensure the high efficiency of the new ferry by allowing the batteries to connect directly to the DC link, which helps avoid power loss during charging and discharging. Additionally, the system can allow for the diesel engines operating on variable speed, which reduces fuel consumption.
The scope of ABB supply also includes generators, transformers, switchboards, the power and energy management system and the energy storage control system. The ferry will be connected to ABB Abilit Collaborative Center's infrastructure. This network uses remote equipment monitoring and data analytics to enable remote technical support, predictive maintenance and planned interventions.
Crucial to the supporting infrastructure shoreside is the shore power connection delivered by ABB to recharge the battery with 2,500 kW while the ferry is in the dock. On average, it will take about 30 minutes to recharge.
“Selecting ABB’s technologies for a vessel operating on such a tough route, where the water depth is sometimes limited to 4.5 m, but wave heights can reach 3.5 m, sets a new benchmark for battery power on board a ship,” said ABB Marine & Ports managing director Juha Koskela. “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 environmental impact, but also improve the regularity of the connection. Previously, during rough weather, the ferry operating the route would travel to an alternative harbour to dock safely, extending the sailing time from 45 minutes to close to three hours and causing motion sickness in passengers. The new ferry will be able to enter the destination harbour in challenging weather conditions most of the time, with the rare exception of particularly rough seas.