ABB hybrid-electric propulsion for new Casco Bay ferry

Maine ferry operator Casco Bay Lines has selected integrated hybrid-electric power and propulsion solution from technology company ABB for its new vessel.


As informed, the new 50-meter ferry is expected to cut up to 800 tons of carbon dioxide per year, significantly improving air quality in Portland, Maine. It will also reduce exhaust fumes, excessive engine noise and vibration common on existing vessels.

Image Courtesy: ABB

Specifically, the newbuild will feature ABB Marine & Ports’ hybrid power, propulsion and a shore charging system, supporting diesel-electric and zero-emissions battery-powered modes, as well as a combination of both.

In line with US governmental commitments to reduce the environmental impact of public service transit systems nationwide, the ferry project has been partially funded by federal and state grants, with a 15-vehicle and 599-passenger capacity vessel to replace an existing diesel-powered ferry for the Portland–Peaks Island service along the coast of Maine.

“This contract is an important milestone for ABB Marine & Ports hybrid-electric propulsion in the U.S. ferry market,” Bruce Strupp, Senior Account Manager, New Build, ABB Marine & Ports, commented, adding that momentum for lower carbon footprint operations continues to grow globally.

“Hundreds of thousands of passengers ride the Casco Bay Lines ferry between Portland and Peaks Island each year,” Hank Berg, General Manager of Casco Bay Lines, said.

Operating since 1981, CBITD provides year-round ferry service to six inhabited islands in Casco Bay. 

“Increasingly, ferry passengers prioritize sustainability as a service expectation, in addition to reliability and comfort. The ability to switch to zero-emission battery power in port is also a clear environmental benefit for residents in Portland and Peaks Island. We look forward to a close collaboration with ABB and we can’t wait to see the end result.”

Within its integration, engineering, automation and equipment supply roles, ABB will deliver the Onboard DC Grid power distribution system to give full control over when and how the vessel uses its diesel generators, the 904-kWh battery energy storage system or a combination of the two to optimize energy consumption at any load.

The technology firm is also supplying an automated shore charging system for installation at the Port of Portland, which automatically connects at the dock and will not require any additional port time to charge the vessel.

Smooth running, remote monitoring and predictive maintenance will be supported through the inclusion of the ABB Ability Remote Diagnostics System in the vessel, ABB further said.

Hybrid and electric solutions for ferries are on the rise, with over 130 battery-powered ferries already in operation and more than 90 on order, according to the Maritime Battery Forum.

In the US, ABB was also recently involved in a fleet renewal project for Washington State Ferries, the largest ferry system in the country.

The company also supplied power and propulsion package for the latest ‘Maid of the Mist’ Niagara Falls tour ferries – the first fully-electric vessels built in the US.

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