Canada Gets Its First Fully Electric Vessels: 2 Massive Ferries

NOV 6 2018 BY MARK KANE 35

Electrification hits the sea” in Canada

First electric ferries in Canada are to begin operation from 2020, according to SCHOTTEL, which was contracted by Damen Shipyards to provide propulsion for two vessels.

Two units are scheduled for conversions:

  • Amherst Island (above) in 2020 – With a length of 68 m and width of 25 m, it will accommodate up to 300 people and 42 cars
  • Wolfe Island (below) in 2021 – will have a length of 98 m and a width of 25 m for transporting up to 399 passengers and 75 cars

Both ferries will be powered mainly from batteries but will get a diesel engine as backup to ensure mobility. Operational speed is to be 12 knots (13.8 mph or 22.2 km/h), which matches conventional propulsion.

“SCHOTTEL has signed a contract with Damen Shipyards to equip the first fully-electric vessels to operate in Canada. The new Amherst Island and Wolfe Island ferries will be propelled by four SCHOTTEL Twin Propellers STP 260 FP, each with an input power of up to 550 kW. The main propulsion is provided by batteries with a diesel engine as backup to ensure mobility. The propulsion concept implies a power intake increase up to 650 kW due to an enhanced draught provided by the batteries. In accordance with their field of operation in the Lake Ontario/St. Laurence River of the Canadian province of Ontario, the thrusters will fulfil the requirements of Ice Class 1A.

Common concept for future innovations
“There has been close cooperation with SCHOTTEL in this project that aimed at identifying high efficient future innovations and green technologies for sustainable power solutions. SCHOTTEL’s international network and propulsion knowledge that we have relied on for decades and we already have supported, made this project a comprehensive solution for the customer”, says Damen Shipyard’s Leo Postma, Area Manager Canada.

The two new double-ended ferries will be operated by MTO, the ferry service of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. Damen’s full electrification concept for the ferries serving Kingston and Wolfe Island, as well as Millhaven and Amherst Island, will reduce emissions by the equivalent of 7 million kg carbon dioxide per year.”

Wolfe Island

Source: SCHOTTEL via Green Car Congress

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35 Comments on "Canada Gets Its First Fully Electric Vessels: 2 Massive Ferries"

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This alone could equal the oil offset of at least 1,200 Tesla Model 3 cars due to ship’s needing to devour so much oil.

Also No5 bunker fuel is the dirtiest kind of oil burning there is.

Cruise Ships: Electric in 5 years, or 50 years?

It works for Ferries because they are docked (and hence chargeable) for a significant percentage of time, especially for these two routes as they are very short.

A BEV cruise ship might use as much power for passenger activities (heating pools, running A/C, purifying water, lights, music, etc) than propulsion, so the problem space is entirely different.

Viking Cruises is developing the world’s first liquid hydrogen-powered cruise ship.

That’s very interesting. I thought for a while that ocean liners might be one niche where hydrogen actually makes sense — especially since for such large vessels, it’s practical to use liquid hydrogen, with potential for actually providing meaningful density and cost advantages over batteries. (Unlike the bulky and expensive pressure tanks in road vehicles…)

However, cooperation with Statoil suggests that the hydrogen will likely be made from fossils?… 🙁

There have been a couple of breakthroughs since Viking announced its plans. Instead of using very low temp liquid hydrogen as fuel, I think they will use a non-combustible, non-toxic Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) that reword about 250 C heat to take the hydrogen out of solution. That heat would be provided by running the fuel cell @ 60+% efficiency. Once the hydrogen is removed from the LOHC, the remaining chemical solution can be reused/recharged with hydrogen for over 1,000 cycles, after which point it would need to be refreshed/recycled to be used for another 1,000+ cycles.

Another breakthrough is a newly developed membrane that easily removes the hydrogen from ammonia, allowing it to be used as a fuel in a ship. Ammonia is toxic, but doesn’t leave behind a liquid solution after the hydrogen has been removed, only nitrogen gas that can be released into the atmosphere. Australia and Norway are looking to export excess renewable energy in the form of electrolyzed hydrogen converted to ammonia. The infrastructure for large scale shipping of ammonia already exists, since it is the second most produced chemical in the world by weight and is already shipped globally.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Well, they’re already diesel-electric. And some use full shore power where available.
So, I think you’ll just see a creep in the amount of batteries on board.

You can check the site of Meyer Werft for example. LNG in the short term. Think 50 MW of installed power.

5-10 years, they are at shore quite often and as weight doesn’t matter much for vessels only cost parameter is at stake for batteries to penetrate this market.

Yes, the weight counts very much as well as costs but batteries do not have the capacity required, you’ll see LNG for many applications.

It all depends on the range and economics required to meet the route.
H2 will certainly be hampered by it’s cost and fossil fuelled creation.

Not sure how you come up with the number, but I like it.

These sort of ferries normally do not use ‘bunker oil’ but commercial Diesel.
Bunker Oil is being banned from use here in Europe. Cross Channel Ferries are having to reduce their emissions considerably. Some ships can’t be economically re-engined so new ones are being ordered.

Exactly, not only road transports are going electric but also water and air ones. And with batteries steadily improving both for specs and price this will only get better. I don’t think OPEC considered this when saying that oil demand will peak in 2040 because electric cars offset will be compensated by ships and planes. I don’t think they even considered electric buses and trucks, and neither the big movement against disposable plastic that is mounting up, at least here in Italy/Europe.

Distance & travel time for the ferry route? Battery capacity? Charging rate & time on the shore?
Wikipedia says Amherst Island is only 3km offshore from Millhaven/Kingston, and has 450 residents. It doesn’t seem to lead anywhere else (a little to the south is already the US-Canada border in the middle of the St Laurence).
Wolfe Island is a similar story.
Unclear why these routes would need such large ferries, or a backup diesel engine. I’d expect a route would have to run many times daily, like the Scandinavian ones reported on here the past couple of years, to pay back the cost — esp. since this is new ship construction, not a conversion.
Anyone know the economic logic here?

All that aside, good for Ontario that they’re doing this — they do have lots of hydro power — and I hope to see BC following suit.

This should have been done first in BC – we just finished replacing a few interior ferries recently. Another opportunity is coming up with the Kootenay Lake ferry… I really hope MOTI has some vision and puts out a tender for electric-only solutions.

Check the BC Ferries site as they’ve committed to changing out pure diesel ships.

Certainly on the inter-island routes.

The Quyon Ferry between Ontario and Quebec has been electric for a few years, has a back-up generator.

Interesting thanks! I also see this is a cable ferry — I wasn’t aware of this type at all. Seems to me that at least the smaller ones, that get actually pulled by the cable, not only guided, could be electric without needing batteries/motor on board ((OTOH, maybe you’d need some independent propulsion method on the ship itself for emergencies, in case the cable gets torn or the onshore motor breaks down.)

Surprised that Tesla hasn’t decided to go into building electric ships yet…

When they are ready you will get a cryptic tweet from Elon.

Battery-powered ships aren’t really different from traditional ships — just replacing the diesel generator with a bunch of batteries. Thus I don’t see why Tesla would want to build ships. They might be interested in supplying batteries for ships, though…

Massive ferries? You call that massive? That’s not big for a ferry.

Depends what you compare it to… There are certainly larger ferries — but also much, much smaller ones.

“Depends on what you compare it to…”

Really? So if these are the massive ferries, what the heck would you call the “larger ferries” that you mentioned in your post? Would they be called “ginormous ferries”? 🤷🏻‍♂️

Not “massive” for Canadian ferries, but welcome none the less.

No, they are basically motorized barges operating in a sheltered channel. And they didn’t run on bunker C either!

Still, an obvious battery-electric propulsion application, so good on them for doing it.

Now let’s see Ontario convert the only thing they have close to a real ferry, the Chi-Cheemaun in Tobermory.

Forced Volt->Bolt Conversion

At some point “conventional” will be deprecated as a term for a transportation device powered by a thrasher engine, to be replaced by “legacy,” or “outmoded,” or “dated.”

In the automotive world it’s become ever more mysterious why anybody with $40k or more would consider a “status” vehicle to be something powered by the loser in the pair Victorian technologies now finally producing a long-term winner.

Legacy Internal Combustion Engine = LICE

Amherst Island has been a farming island for over 100 years. There are 3rd generation farming families there. The ferry service was originally established to get farm products to the mainland and supplies to the farmers. Over the years the farmers severed land around the waterfront for the cash so that the perimeter of the island is inhabited by well to do retirees or good income earners who use the ferries to commute to the mainland.

Several wind turbines were recently installed on the island creating a furor by the well to do who didn’t want to look at them. Sadly it has really divided the community. Imagine the nerve of those farmers wanting to make a little extra to put their kids through school or buy a few luxuries. The island is in my service territory and I took a few cliche pics of my first leaf with turbines in the background. I’ll see if I can post it here……………… nope. It won’t paste. Oh well.

Another happy news. Happy Diwali to all IEV readers.

Schottel? Is that a German company? If so, my kudos to them.

Wolfe island is especially deserving of an electric ferry.

Inside EV readers would be interested to read more about the Wolfe Island Wind Power project. I think there are 85 or 86 Siemens wind turbines and the island exports power to the mainland. It is something to see, and you can drive right up to some of the turbines and really get a sense of the scale of them.

The ferry is needed to keep tourists, power plant support, and the locals moving. Great place to visit in summer and fall.