ABB partners with Vigor for Washington State Ferries newbuilds

New Olympic-class vessels will feature a hybrid-electric propulsion solution
ABB partners with Vigor for Washington State Ferries newbuilds
The first hybrid-electric Olympic-class ferry will join the Washington State Ferries’ fleet in 2024

By Alex Smith |

ABB has been selected by American shipbuilding company Vigor to provide a hybrid-electric propulsion and energy storage system for the newest additions to the Washington State Ferries fleet.

The new Olympic-class ferries will have the capacity to carry 144 cars and 1,500 passengers each. The initial vessel of the series is scheduled for delivery in 2024 and will the first newbuild in Washington State Ferries’ fleet to feature hybrid-electric propulsion and a high-capacity energy storage system. The ships will be able to fully operate on battery power, with the capability to revert to hybrid mode.

“This landmark project supports Washington State’s goal for 2050 to reduce emissions by 57.5 per cent below the emissions level in 2019, utilising a hybrid and electric propulsion solution that is space-efficient, easy to install and flexible in operation,” said Jay Hebert, vice president of marine fabrication at Vigor. “Vigor is delighted to partner with ABB in this remarkable work prompted by the commitment of Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the state legislature and Washington State Ferries to replace aging ferries with clean technology in alignment with the state’s commitment to environmental stewardship.”

Washington State Ferries is the largest ferry system in the USA. By 2040, the operator plans to replace 13 existing diesel ferries with hybrid-electric newbuilds and to convert six other ferries to plug-in hybrids, with recharging facilities installed at ferry terminals. Some vessels will also be capable of operating in fully electric mode on shorter modes. These measures are projected to reduce fuel consumption from 19 million gallons in 2018 to 9.5 million in 2040.

“Moving towards a zero-emission future relies on technologies that meet the environmental and cost needs of today and offer flexibility to integrate future energy sources in the years ahead,” said Juha Koskela, managing director of ABB Marine & Ports. “ABB is delighted to support this milestone project demonstrating the way that electric, digital and connected solutions can deliver shipping’s zero-emission future.”

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