Westcon Power & Automation has developed the world’s first hydrogen-electric hybrid power system for fast passenger ferries. The system will open up for a wider range of emission-free waterborne transport.
Ferries are the main mode of transport for many people living in coastal or island communities. Ferries also have tremendous unexploited potential as public transport in cities located near harbour basins or along rivers.
Fossil fuel-powered ferries are, however, highly polluting – emitting CO₂, SO₂, NOₓ and particulate matter. Diesel-electric hybrid ferries are a more environment-friendly alternative, but are not entirely emission-free. Meanwhile, all-electric ferries have zero emissions, but current battery technology does not offer sufficient capacity to cover longer distances due to weight and volume.
Westcon Power & Automation has developed a hybrid power system combining a battery and hydrogen fuel cells that allows ferries to sail at high speeds over longer distances.
The system is fully integrated and comprises an engine, hydrogen fuel cells, drivetrain and battery. It will be sold under Westcon’s signature brand name, e-SEAMatic® BLUE.
Westcon has also developed a similar hybrid power system that uses a battery and liquid hydrogen. The system is being installed on the world’s first liquid hydrogen-electric ferry, which is under construction for Norled. With a capacity of 299 passengers and 80 cars, the ferry will be the first of its kind to run entirely on zero-emission fuel. It is scheduled to enter service along the coastline of Southern Norway in 2021.
One of the benefits of hydrogen as a fuel, aside from zero emissions, is that it allows for sailing over longer distances and at higher speeds. Westcon’s hydrogen-electric hybrid power system takes full advantage of this, making hydrogen-powered ferries a genuine alternative to fossil-fuelled ferries.
The system will also help to reduce overall emissions from passenger ferry transport. It is estimated that Norled’s liquid hydrogen ferry will spare the environment for approximately 4 000 metric tons of CO₂ emissions annually.
Westcon’s hydrogen-electric hybrid power system is suitable for a wide range of other vessels, in addition to fast passenger ferries. These include passenger boats for waterways, high-speed boats, and cargo, offshore and service vessels.
Founded in Norway in 1988, Westcon Power & Automation has been developing energy storage solutions since 2013. Westcon delivered the power and automation systems for the zero-emission sightseeing boat Future of the Fjords, which was awarded 2018 “Ship of the Year” at SMM. The company has a number of other electric and hydrogen-based projects underway.
World’s first maritime power system combining a battery with hydrogen fuel cells
Emission-free alternative to diesel-electric hybrids
Can significantly reduce overall CO₂ emissions from passenger ferry transport