ABB to power futuristic hybrid ferry on Norwegian fjords


fjord ferryABB, the power and automation technology group, will provide the technology integral to one of the most innovative ship designs ever seen on the Norwegian fjords.
The ferry will couple its striking appearance with ABB’s cutting edge maritime hybrid solution. The vessel’s concept has been named Seasight by the shipbuilder Brødrene Aa.
ABB will supply a compact and lightweight version of the award-winning Onboard DC Grid system that will manage and control the energy flow between the diesel engine, propeller and charging station.  The Onboard DC Grid is a key enabler in efficiently integrating energy storage into modern marine power systems through its DC infrastructure and integrated power and energy management system.  In the case of the Seasight, the Onboard DC Grid will transfer energy to the battery during charging, which will happen at both ends of the voyage, and whilst the diesel engines are running.
ABB has already engineered the technology to allow larger passenger ferries, including those which carry cars, to run on hybrid or pure battery power.  The environmental saving in terms of carbon dioxide reduction for just one vessel can be the equivalent to electrifying thousands of cars.
The ferry will carry up to 400 tourists between Flåm and Gudvangen along the Nærøyfjord in the west of Norway, a distance of around 32 km.  Once it has arrived in the most scenic part of the fjord it will switch to battery power, allowing sightseers to enjoy nature in almost complete silence at around 10 knots (approx. 18 km/h).  The fjord is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List because it remains largely unspoilt by human development and the ferry is designed with the surroundings in mind.  Seasight will complete around 700 journeys a year for its owner, The Fjords, from May 2016.
“Regulation means Norway is leading the world in terms of battery power for passenger ferries,” said Sindre Sætre, ABB’s Director of Marine and Ports in Norway.
“Globally battery power and hybrid technology is gaining importance in the maritime sector and we are delighted to be at the forefront of that process.”
The ferry design is inspired by a trail finding its way up a steep mountainside.  It measures 40 metres in length and 15 metres in width.  Outside the ferry, passengers will be able to climb all over the boat while the inside will feature panoramic views and 450 seats.
The construction of the carbon fibre vessel is already underway at Brødrene Aa, which also came up with the concept.  Anstein Aa from Brødrene Aa said: “This is one of the most exciting vessels we have ever constructed in terms of both aesthetics and technology.  With ABB’s established reputation in the passenger maritime sector, we are extremely happy to have such an experienced partner in such an innovative project.”