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Passenger Ship Technology

Fjord1 speeds ahead with new technology

Thu 07 Jun 2018 by Rebecca Moore

Fjord1 speeds ahead with new technology
Fjord1’s conversion of Fannefjord paved the way for its use of batteries in other ferry projects

Fjord1 is blazing a trail by using all-electric ferries. Its head of projects and newbuilding Arild Austrheim spoke to Rebecca Moore in an exclusive interview

Fjord1 is leading the way when it comes to using batteries in ferries.

It has 22 all-electric ferries on its orderbook, with three already delivered.

Fjord1 head of projects and newbuilding Arild Austrheim told Passenger Ship Technology “We are by far the leading company to install batteries in ships.”

Fjord1 has always been ahead of the game when it comes to new technology. It was the first ferry operator to use LNG in the passenger shipping market, has two vessels that run on biodiesel and is involved in a project using hydrogen as fuel. The ferry operator, which has been operating since 1858, runs 70 vessels and owns 50% of the ferry marketshare in Norway.

Mr Austrheim said the ferry operator’s use of batteries was being driven by the strict requirements of local governments in Norway to operate routes with low or zero emissions. The all-electric ferries span six large tender contracts and 18 different routes.

“We operate contracts on behalf of provincial governments and are competing with other companies and have to meet price and environmental criteria – we are competing on the highest degree of electric operation at the lowest costs,” he explained.

The 25 all-electric ferries represent “quite a hectic scenario” for Fjord1, as so many of them are being delivered in such a short space of time. The 22 remaining ferries on the company’s orderbook will all be delivered by the end of next year, meaning that from the second half of 2019 Fjord1 will take delivery of a new vessel every third week on average.

“We are introducing a lot of technology at very high speed and there is no time to learn from the first ferry, so we are learning now,” Mr Austrheim said. “One of the things that we really hope the market will develop further are fully automatic charging solutions,” he added.

The ferries will be charged automatically from shore and Mr Austrheim said they had so little time in port that charging needed to be automatic to be as quick as possible. Fjord1 would like to see solutions developed that are more efficient and simpler. “We think that there are possibilities for some companies to come up with something new,” he commented.

All the ferries are designed to operate as fully electric, but hybrid generators have been installed on board as a back-up. Out of the 25 vessels, 13 are being constructed by Havyard Ship Technology in Norway. The remaining ferries are being built by Sefine, Cemre and Tersan shipyards in Turkey.

Mr Austrheim said “We are building a lot locally as we believe in supporting local communities and due to the quality and cost efficiency of building in Norway.” Havyard is only a few hours’ drive from Fjord1’s headquarters in Floro. He pointed out that even though half of the ferries were being built in Turkey, they were being built with a lot of equipment from Norwegian suppliers and manufacturers, meaning the vessels consist of 30% Norwegian construction.

As well as its all-electric ferries, Fjord1 has been heavily involved with the all-electric sightseeing vessel Future of the Fjords, launched in April this year and operated by The Fjords. Fjord1 owns 50% of the company.

LNG and battery conversion

An important backdrop to this project is Fjord1's conversion of its ferry Fannefjord from an LNG-fuelled vessel to an LNG battery-hybrid ferry. The converted vessel went into operation in May 2015, and claims the title of being the first passenger ferry to use a combination of pure gas and battery power.

Fjord1’s Fannefjord was the second unit in a series of four ships built by Remontowa shipyard in 2009. It was delivered in 2010 and operates on the Molde-Vestnes route. It is an efficient and clean ship, being a gas-electric powered ferry.

The refitted Fannefjord uses a 1,050 V, 410 kWh energy storage system (ESS) consisting of 63 Corvus Energy AT6500 advanced lithium polymer batteries. The ESS was integrated with the existing Siemens drive systems and powered by two LNG generators.

Norwegian-headquartered naval architect and maritime engineering company LMG Marin designed the conversion, together with Fiskerstrand Verft, which carried out the conversion.

Mr Austrheim highlighted the importance of this project. “We learned a lot from this, and used this as a reference point for Future of the Fjords,” he said.

Fjord1 could be adding to its fleet again if it wins more contracts. Mr Austrheim said the company was still involved in ongoing tenders that involved a high degree of newbuilds. “These will go on until 2022 to 2023, and if we win, that will decide if we build more vessels.”

Asked if the new ferries joining the fleet would replace older tonnage, he explained “It is a combination – some routes are requesting newbuilds as part of a tender, and we have some new routes where the ferries will go.”

He said Fjord1 was planning to retrofit a “handful” of its existing ferries (less than 10 years old) with batteries.

Meeting energy requirements

The company signed a deal this year for Rolls-Royce to supply its autocrossing system to 13 of its new all-electric vessels. All contracts also include two Azipull propellers for each vessel with an accompanying propeller control system from Rolls-Royce.

The automatic crossing system provides safe, predictable and energy-efficient transit back and forth by automatically controlling the vessel’s acceleration, deceleration, speed and track. The two energy-efficient Rolls-Royce Azipull thrusters respond adaptively to environmental conditions to ensure optimal behaviour and maximise efficiency.

The energy consumption of the new ferries will be measured and Fjord1 will be penalised if more energy is used than that included in the bid. The autocrossing solution will help the company ensure it sticks to the criteria specified in the contract.

“The idea is that it automatically repeats the best way of driving a ferry on a route. It will automatically calculate and act accordingly with the most energy efficient way to do the crossing and repeat this,” said Mr Austrheim.  

The ferry operator is also a leader when it comes to using LNG as fuel. It launched Glutra, the world’s first LNG ferry in 2000 and now operates 12 LNG-fuelled ferries.

It is the first operator to have two ferries operating on pure biodiesel. Two of its existing ferries were converted from a diesel operation to biodiesel. They started running on biofuel in January 2016. The company was required by the contract to meet the maximum level of CO2 emissions reductions, and using biofuel has a lower CO2 value than marine gas oil. The biofuel is delivered by truck.

Fjord1 is also involved in a hydrogen project overseen by the Federal Road Administration. It is developing a concept for a ferry using hydrogen and is competing with other operators to do this at the lowest cost.

“For some types of operation, hydrogen could lead to improvements and increase the opportunity to have zero-emission operations. The technology already exists but there are challenges to adapting it to a ferry,” said Mr Austrheim.  

Fjord1 battery highlights

  • Won six large tenders with low-/zero-emission operations.
  • 18 different routes by 29 vessels.
  • Ordered 25 new battery ferries in less than two years.
  • Three vessels already delivered.
  • Remaining 22 ferries to be delivered during 2018 and 2019.

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