September 14, 2021
The first fully electric highway ferries to North America are now en route to Damen Galati Shipyards to Lake Ontario, Canada, to begin operations.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario, Canada, the 68 meters (223 ‘) Amherst Islander II and 98 meters (321 ‘) Wolfe islander iv, represent a new generation of large zero-emission ferries, Damen said. The ships left the shipyard on August 26 to be loaded onto the semi-submersible transport vessel Super servant 4 and was due to arrive in Lake Ontario in mid-September.
Both open deck vessels are equipped to be fully electric, but also have two diesel generators installed to allow full hybrid and diesel propulsion for maximum redundancy. Due to the harsh winters, the ferries also feature Ice Class 1B hulls and Ice Class 1A azimuth thrusters, allowing them to be fully operational down to -25 ° C.
The delivery of the vessels marks the completion of the first of two stages of the project. The second step, which is well advanced, involves Damen working with the Ontario government to install the facilities that will allow ships to use shore power provided through integrated dock loading and mooring systems. This will allow them to recharge their batteries when charging and discharging between short trips to and from the islands.
This not only involves the installation of the necessary transmission infrastructure at each of the four ferry docks, but also the complete reconstruction of the docks to accommodate the new vessels as well as the electrical equipment ashore. The systems will also use load shifting and peak shaving technology to achieve maximum efficiency and minimal costs.
The ships will use an innovative fully automatic charging system developed by Wabtec Stemmann with features that include motion compensation to ensure a stable connection between vessel and shore, even in rough seas. With a power of 6 MW, charging takes only 10 minutes.
With work on shore to be completed in 2022, after extensive crew training, the ferries will begin operating in hybrid mode using diesel generators to supply electricity to the engines.
“This integrated project is the first of its kind and we hope it will demonstrate that fully electric ferries of this size are a viable proposition,” said Leo Postma, Damen’s regional sales manager for the Americas, in a statement announcing the deliveries. “Damen now offers turnkey packages for organizations looking for all-electric integrated ferry systems, working with local contractors and suppliers to install the onshore infrastructure that best suits local requirements and conditions. “
Damen provides full support with its staff in Ontario during the 16 month warranty period and also establishes a service center in British Columbia to provide long term support to the Canadian market. Damen is currently at the midpoint of a program to build and deliver six Damen Road Ferries 8117 E3 for BC Ferries. Although currently equipped with hybrid propulsion systems, the new boats are designed to be suitable for fully electric propulsion in the future.
New Ontario ferries provide additional capacity and will make crossings faster and more environmentally friendly for the 1 million passengers and 500,000 vehicles that travel between Wolfe Island and Kingston each year, as well as for the 270,000 passengers and 130,000 vehicles who travel to and from Amherst Island each year.