Earlier this month Maid of the Mist launched two new-generation all-electric ferries, which take tourists to Niagara Falls, "to experience one of the wonders of the natural world undisturbed by exhaust fumes, engine noise or vibrations".
We first heard about the project in 2019, but it took quite some time to build the ferries and get approvals. Both units entered service on October 6, 2020.
The first one is named the James V. Glynn, in honor of the Maid of the Mist chairman, while the second the Nikola Tesla, in honor of the renowned energy pioneer.
The major technical partner responsible for the project was ABB, which integrated electric propulsion, battery system, and the on-shore fast-charging system.
Both ferries are equipped with 400 kW propulsion and 316 kWh of battery capacity (in two 158 kWh packs).
"James V. Glynn and Nikola Tesla are each powered by a pair of battery packs providing 316 kWh total capacity divided across two catamaran hulls, offering a level of redundancy that helps to safeguard operations. The batteries allow the electric propulsion motors to reach an output of up to 400 kW, with the power setup controlled by ABB’s Power and Energy Management System."
Those numbers might not sound like a lot for a ferry, but the route is relatively short - it takes just around 20 minutes and consumes 13-16% of the battery capacity (about 50 kWh we guess). Then the ferry can recharge during a 10 minute break for disembarkation and boarding (7 minutes of charging allows it to reach 80% state-of-charge again). Then the cycle repeats.
The good news does not end here, as the Maid of the Mist is now running purely on the sustainable power of hydroelectricity.