World’s largest fully electric RoPax ferries to feature DC-Hub solution

Helsinki-headquartered power electronics specialist The Switch has been contracted to deliver its DC power distribution solution, The Switch DC-Hub, and ultra-fast electronic current limiter (ECL) and battery short-circuit limiter (BSCL) protection devices as part of the battery-electric system for the world’s largest fully electric RoPax on order for Argentine ferry operator Buquebus.

Incat Tasmania

DC power distribution in ships is widely recognized as being more energy-efficient than AC systems in many cases. However, DC power distribution needs a different protection philosophy.

Moreover, today’s larger batteries require ultra-fast and fail-safe protection to withstand larger battery short-circuit currents. In addition, ultra-fast protection devices reduce the size of the total system by reducing the short-circuit current levels in the system. 

“We’re very proud to be contributing to this milestone project at a time when marine battery systems are getting bigger and bigger,” said Paul Atherton, General Manager Operation Unit Norway at The Switch.

“The project represents a big leap for the industry, which our proprietary DC-Hub power distribution drives and protection technology are helping to enable. Without our game-changing protection devices, it simply wouldn’t be possible to make battery systems safe on this scale.”

The Switch DC-Hub for multiple applications optimizes multi-megawatt DC distribution systems for all marine vessels. The 4 ultrafast devices protect inside The Switch DC-Hubs, between DC-Hubs, and to and from batteries.

The Switch Electronic Current Limiter (ECL) handles faults toward the batteries from the DC-Hub, protecting them from external failure and ensure ride-through. 

The Switch Battery Short-Circuit Limiter (BSCL) restricts any short-term current from batteries, immediately blocking the short-circuit system. This allows more batteries to be connected to the electrical system and fewer DC-Hubs, making the entire system more compact, according to the company.

The catamaran will be built by Incat shipyard of Tasmania, which specializes in lightweight aluminum ship solutions for ferry operators, special service providers and military applications.

With an overall length of 130 meters and a width of 32 meters it will be able to carry 2,100 passengers and 226 cars on services between Argentina and Uruguay. Delivery is scheduled for 2025. 

Technology group Wärtsilä will provide the uniquely designed, fully battery-powered vessel with e-motor driven Wärtsilä waterjets as the main propulsors. The battery modules and energy storage package is four times larger than on any electric/hybrid ship currently operating. 

Corvus Energy will supply its Dolphin NextGen lightweight Energy Storage System (ESS), which with more than 40 MWh of energy storage will be the largest battery system ever installed on a ship.