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ABB to power Iceland’s first electric ferry

The ferry contains back up diesel generators in case rough weather delays the boat

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 the Westman Island, covering 13 km in about 45 minutes.

The 70 metre long ferry, with a capacity of 550 passengers and 75 cars, is designed by Polarkonsult and is due for delivery from the Crist SA shipyard in 2019. 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 harbours. During particularly challenging weather conditions, when the consumption of battery power may exceed the available energy, the ferry will utilise 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% 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 optimised for cleaner operation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, whilst power is sufficient to navigate some very hazardous waters safely,” said Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration director of maritime division Sigurdur Gretarsson.

ABB’s power distribution system Onboard DC GridTM will ensure the high efficiency of the new ferry by allowing the batteries to connect directly to the DC link, which helps 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 be connected to ABB Ability Collaborative Centres Infrastructure. This network uses remote equipment monitoring and data analytics to enable remote technical support, as well as predictive maintenance and planned interventions.

Crucial to the supporting infrastructure shoreside is the shore power connection delivered by ABB to recharge the battery with a power of 2,500 kW while the ferry is in the dock. On average, it will take about 30 minutes to recharge.

“Selection of ABB’s technologies for a vessel operating on such a tough route, where the water depth is sometimes limited to 4.5 metres, but wave heights can reach 3.5 metres, 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 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 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.

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