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Washington State Ferries orders ABB hybrid-electric vessels

June 19, 2020

The newest fleet additions to the Washington State Ferries will be powered by ABB hybrid-electric propulsion and energy storage systems. ABB (a Green Marine partner) has partnered with the American shipbuilding company Vigor Fab LLC to equip the Olympic Class ferries.

Scheduled for 2024 delivery, the new vessels will be able to fully operate on battery power, but retain the capability to revert to hybrid mode, if required. They herald a new era for the Washington State transport operator in the shift towards innovative technologies that produce significant reductions in fuel use and greenhouse gases.

By leveraging ABB’s Onboard DC Grid power distribution system and drive technology, the new ferry design optimises energy use, whether drawing on main engine power, battery power or a combination of both. The battery power can also extend zero-emissions capability along the supply chain by using renewables and hydroelectric power.

By 2040, Washington State Ferries plans to replace 13 existing diesel ferries with hybrid-electric newbuilds and to convert six other ferries to plug-in hybrids with recharging stations at many ferry terminals. All hybrid vessels will be capable of charging at a terminal and some of the vessels will have the capacity to operate in fully electric mode on shorter routes.

With the addition of these newer built, clean energy ferries, the operator’s fuel consumption is expected to be reduced to 9.5 million gallons (almost 36 million litres) in 2040, compared to 19 million gallons (nearly 72 million litres) in 2018, with CO2 emissions expected to fall below 2050 reduction targets by 2034.