Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hybrid Electric Retrofit Shows the Future for Passenger and Freight Ferries

Finnish Group Powers Taiwanese Vessel
Shipping News Feature
TAIWAN – FINLAND – WORLDWIDE – It would seem that, as from this moment, diesel and similar heavy oils have their days as a source of motive power, well and truly numbered. Much of the pollution in the world’s major cities can be put down to diesel cars, trucks and buses whilst on the high seas major shipping groups look to cleaner alternatives such as LNG. Now Finnish group Visedo has retrofitted the popular Kaohsiung to Cijin Island passenger ferry with a hybrid electric power unit which the company claims could revolutionise marine passenger and freight transport across the region.

In replacing the diesel engine of the Ferry Happiness Visedo, which manufactures electric drivetrains for marine vessels, commercial vehicles and other heavy duty applications, worked alongside Taiwan’s Ship and Ocean Industries R&D Centre, also known as SOIC, to complete the retrofit. The switch will halve daily fuel consumption while transporting 15,000 passengers every day to Cijin Island, a popular tourist destination in Taiwan, at a top speed of nine knots. With ferries launching from berth every 15 minutes, the ferry will help share the eight million passengers who travel the route every year. It’s estimated the electric propulsion will save more than 25,000 litres of fuel per annum.

Visedo retrofitted the 100-tonne, 23 metre long vessel with an electric system to replace the original 300HP diesel engine. The powertrain was designed to ensure pure electric cruising for half the ferry’s operation time and, with fast shore charging, this pure electric percentage can actually be somewhat higher. Head of SOIC’s System Development ChihHung Lin said:

“Like many East Asian harbour cities, in Kaoshiung ferries play a key role for everyday public transport, often playing the role that buses do elsewhere. Taiwan’s ‘Harbour Capital’ has long suffered from air pollution and only a few years ago the average person was consuming double the national Taiwan average of carbon dioxide. In response the Kaoshiung City Government is committed to cleaning up its fleet and is currently considering the possibility of replacing all 11 of its vessels with this new type of e-ferry. This also includes embarking on a hybrid tug-boat project.”

Visedo, headquartered in Lappeenranta, was only founded in 2009 and now manufactures power trains suitable for hybrid and electric systems within the power range of 30-2,000kW with exports representing 90% of its sales, CEO Kimmo Rauma commented:

“Given the geography, ferries are a vital mode of public transport across East and Southeast Asia but they are also the most energy intensive per kilometre travelled. Until now, diesel ferries have been a dirty but necessary part of life around harbours like Kaohsiung. In Hong Kong for example, passenger ferries make up the majority of licensed vessels in Victoria Harbour, where it’s estimated air pollution kills about 3,200 people every year.

“Visedo has developed a cost-effective and efficient alternative, so rather than waiting until a vessel’s service life ends, harbour cities can swap noisy, dirty and expensive diesel for silent electric powertrains that are more efficient, can halve fuel costs and emit no fumes or oil pollution.”

Photo: The Ferry Happiness under way.