LARGEST PLUG-IN HYBRID FERRY MAKES DEBUT

<i>Color Hybrid</i> is entering service on the Sandefjord/Stromstad route (credit: Ulstein Verft). Color Hybrid is entering service on the Sandefjord/Stromstad route (credit: Ulstein Verft).

Norway’s maritime cluster has opened a new chapter in the roll-out of environmentally-attuned shipping through the completion of the world’s largest ‘plug-in’ hybrid ferry combining diesel and electric power, writes David Tinsley.

The 160-metre Color Hybrid is laid out for 2,000 passengers and 500 cars, and will be the mainstay of Color Line’s service connecting Sandefjord with the Swedish port of Stromstad, across the approaches to Oslofjord.

Delivered on 1 August by main contractor Ulstein Verft, the vessel will draw on a 4.7MWh battery pack to effect virtually silent, emission-free navigation in and out of the fjord to Sandefjord’s inner harbour. When moored in port, the batteries will be re-charged through a connection to the shoreside electric grid, using energy from renewable sources.

Although construction of the hull was assigned to Crist Shipyard in Poland, Color Hybrid is testament to the extent and scope of Norway’s marine industries, which accounted for over 70% of suppliers. The design was entrusted to Fosen Yards, experienced in ro-pax shipbuilding and since linked with Ulstein through the joint endeavour Fosen Ulstein Design & Engineering (FUDE). Rolls-Royce Power Systems’ Bergen division, a European bastion of medium-speed diesel and gas engine technology, has played a major role in the project.

The investment in hybrid power is much greater than that of a traditional propulsion installation, but ever-more pressing regulatory requirements in Nordic waters in conjunction with economic imperatives have spurred the uptake of the technology within innovative engineering and propulsion solutions.

Color Hybrid provides a new showcase for Bergen diesel power, by way of a plant based on two eight-cylinder B33:45L engines and two six-cylinder models arranged in a ‘father and son’ propulsion layout. With each of the larger engines rated at 4,800kW and the smaller units producing 3,600kW, the total, maximum effect is 16,800kW.

Each father-and-son pair drives a propeller shaft through a reduction gearbox, with a 2.7MW power take-off/power take-in (PTO/PTI) in each case. Two of the engines also drive generators that feed the main electrical boards and potentially effect battery re-charging at sea. The PTO/PTI arrangement confers hybrid propulsion using both direct-drive and electrical power. The energy storage system enables the ship to operate on battery power at a speed of no less than 12 knots for a minimum of 25 minutes, including a hotel load of 750kW.

The 65 tonnes of batteries, manufactured by Siemens in Trondheim, are distributed between two separate rooms. Brunvoll supplied the transmissions, main controllable pitch propellers, plus the two stern thrusters and single bow tunnel thrusters.

The vessel also features a 5MW heat reservoir in the hull, tapping heat energy from both the wake and the exhaust streams.

The battery/hybrid propulsion arrangement not only meets stringent environmental criteria, but also ensures power delivery flexibility and efficiency in covering the frequent load variations that characterise the operating profile for the 38 nautical-mile route. Maximum speed will normally be about 17 knots.

Color Line had initially considered shipyards in Asia, and subsequently in Europe, before finally deciding on western Norway’s Ulstein Verft. The deal came at a time of industrial reorientation, following the downturn in demand for offshore-related vessels on which Norwegian yards and ancillary sectors had hitherto been highly reliant. The project exemplifies capabilities in applying trade skills and know-how to other spheres.

Financing of the newbuild was based on funding backed by the Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency(GIEK) and a commercial bank.

PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS - Color Hybrid

Length overall

160.33m

Length bp

142.95m

Breadth

27.10m

Depth

14.88m

Draught

6.00m

Gross tonnage

27,164t

Deadweight

3,258t

Passenger capacity

2,000

Car capacity

500

Main engine power

2 x 3,600kW + 2 x 4,800kW

Speed, service

17kts

PTI/PTO

2 x 2,700kW

Tunnel thrusters

1 x 1,000kW(bow) + 2 x 1,600kW(stern)

Battery installation

4,700MWh

Class

DNV GL

Flag

Norway

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