Ferries to launch with fast charging

The electric ferries will replace a 1930s diesel-powered fleet

Five electric ferries are set to operate around the clock across the North Sea Canal in Amsterdam using a fast charging system developed by ABB (writes Nick Flaherty).

They will replace a diesel-powered fleet that dates back to the 1930s, and will be used on three busy North Sea Canal routes that transport more than 350,000 cars a year.

They can carry up to 400 passengers each, and 20 cars or four trucks, but have only 3 minutes for battery charging after each 20-minute round trip. That makes fast charging a critical factor in maintaining a reliable service.

They are a plug-in hybrid design that is intended to run on 100% electric power from their 680 kWh batteries. They will only use the generator in conditions above wind force 8.

To ensure safe, efficient charging and optimise battery life, the 750 V DC supply from the chargers has to be unaffected by fluctuations in the power grid.

The chargers, installed by BAM Infra Rail, use three ACS880 supply modules from ABB. These provide the power conversion based on IGBT technology and contain a rectifier, DC link and an inverter to provide a stable DC output with minimal grid distortion by reacting to network events and compensating for any voltage drops.

“The fast-charging solution delivered by BAM and ABB is fully automated and can easily be integrated into the ferries’ timetable,” said Alain Asin, project manager at the operator Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf. “Electric operation means there are no particulates or CO2 emissions. When all five ferries are in service and the old diesel vessels are retired, we will save 800,000 litres of diesel a year, eliminating over 2400 tonnes of carbon emissions.”