ABB technology to power Iceland’s first electric ferry

ABB technology to power Iceland’s first electric ferry
ABB will supply power and electric storage solutions to the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration’s new ferry (Image: ABB)

Iceland’s first electric ferry is to be powered by technology from ABB. 

ABB will supply power and electric storage solutions to the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration’s new ferry, which will sail the 13 kilometres of rough waters between Landeyjahöfn on the mainland and the Westman Island. The 70-metre ferry, which has a capacity of 550 passengers and 75 cars, was designed by Polarkonsult and will be delivered later this year from Crist S.A. shipyard. 

The ship will primarily be powered by a large battery pack (3,000 kilowatt-hours), which will be able to recharge in-the harbour in around 30 minutes. In particularly challenging weather conditions, the ferry will use its diesel-electric generator set, as the consumption of battery power may exceed the available energy.
The new ferry comes as part of Iceland’s sustainability goals and using more electric modes of transportation. In total, 80% of Iceland’s energy is generated by non-fossil fuels, with hydropower and geothermal energy making up the bulk of its fuels. 

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

ABB’s power distribution system, Onboard DC Grid, will ensure the efficiency of the ferry by allowing the batteries to connect directly to a DC link when docked in a port. This will help avoid power loss during charging and discharging. The system can also allow for variable speed operation of the diesel engines, resulting in further reduced fuel consumption.

ABB will also supply generators, transformers, switchboards, the power and energy management and the energy storage control system. The ferry will be connected to ABB Ability Collaborative Centers’ infrastructure, which uses remote monitoring and data analytics for remote support and predictive maintenance.

“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 onboard a ship,” said Juha Koskela, managing director of ABB Marine & Ports. “In line with our vision for electric, digital and connected shipping, this project demonstrates how system integration – whether onboard the ship or between the ship’s crew and shoreside expertise – is a key success factor for vessel management.”

The new ferry will also improve the regularity of the ferry connection. While the previous ferry would have to reroute to a different harbour to dock safely in challenging weather conditions, extending the sailing time by around two hours, the new ferry will generally be able to enter the destination harbour, with the rare exception of particularly rough seas.

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Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
Thursday, February 14, 2019