Two electric ferries en route to Lake Ontario

Two electric road ferries are now on their way from Damen Shipyards Galati to Lake Ontario, Canada, two years after Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation had placed the order. The Amherst Islander II and Wolfe Islander IV, 68 and 98 metres in length, respectively, represent a new generation of zero-emission large ferries.

+ + Kindly see our update below + +

Both open-deck vessels can run fully electric but also have twin diesel generators installed to allow hybrid and full diesel propulsion for maximum redundancy so the shipbuilder. Damen Shipyards had reportedly received the order in 2018, with the brief to design vessels capable of operating in the often icy waters of Canada’s Great Lakes. Correspondingly, both electric vessels have been made to sail in 60 cm thick ice and remain fully operational at -25ºC.

As planned, the 68-metre Amherst Islander II has a capacity for 40 cars. The Wolfe Islander IV, which measures nearly 100 metres, can carry 75 cars.

The delivery of the vessels – they are currently still in transit on a semi-submersible transport vessel – marks the completion of the first of the two stages of the project. The second stage, which Damen says is well underway, sees Damen working with the Ontario government to install DC charging facilities.

The DC charging station will use protected and heated charging plugs at the shore. Damen adds the charging stations on land will have extra energy storage not to overload the grid. Said shore batteries will be charged in 50 minutes via the grid and, together with the grid power, will charge the batteries on board in 10 minutes, delivering 6MW of power.

The systems will also utilise load displacement and peak-shaving technology to achieve maximum efficiency and minimal costs.

What is more, Damen will add a fully automatic charging system developed by Wabtec Stemmann with features that include motion compensation to ensure a stable connection between the ship and the shore even in rough seas.

Leo Postma, Damen Area Director Sales Americas, added they were offering “turnkey packages for organisations looking for integrated all-electric ferry systems, working with local contractors and suppliers to install the shoreside infrastructure that best suits local requirements and conditions. It has been a pleasure working with the Government of Ontario to bring this project to fruition, and we very much look forward to seeing it fully operational. This is the future!”

Damen is providing full support with staff in Ontario for the 16-month warranty period and establishing a Service Hub in British Columbia to provide long term support to the Canadian market. In addition, Damen is currently midway through a programme to build and deliver six Damen Road Ferries 8117 E3 for BC Ferries. While presently fitted with hybrid propulsion systems, they are designed to be adapted for fully electric propulsion in the future, as reported.

Ontario’s new electric ferries are expected to carry one million passengers and 500,000 vehicles which travel annually between Wolfe Island and Kingston, and the 270,000 passengers and 130,000 vehicles which travel to and from Amherst Island each year.

Update 20 September 2021:

Leclanché is introducing a new ‘ports and harbour’ infrastructure solution enabling hybrid and fully electric vessels to fast charge when returning to port. Crossing time between ports will take the ferries around 20 minutes. Leclanché’s high power, DC-to-DC fast-charging system will enable the electric ferries to recharge in 10 minutes at each port, which is about the same amount of time it will take for the ferries to discharge passengers and vehicles and reload.

Its first customer for the turnkey solution is Damen Shipyards Group, which has selected Leclanché to construct and provide two fast-charge electric ferry stations, and supporting electrical storage systems, on Canada’s Lake Ontario. Damen Shipyards Group operates globally with more than 50 shipyards and related facilities., (update)


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