Posted on July 4, 2022
Jurriaan Jellema’s enthusiasm for the stunning Canadian scenery and the vibrant culture is clear. He is now based in Canada permanently as the Service Hub Manager after being the Project Manager for two pioneering, all-electric car ferries, which were delivered to the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario, last year. These are also the first fully-electric road ferries of this size to sail in North America
“This is just a wonderful project. Seeing these state-of-the-art ferries in situ in their home port at Lake Ontario makes me very proud of the vessels we have built. But the project encompasses much more than just the two vessels, it is the whole shore-side infrastructure – the integration of the vessels with this equipment, the specially developed charging & conversion system, the battery buffers, the automated mooring and of course, the installation and commissioning of this extensive project – and that’s what makes it so special.”
In 2017, Damen won a public tender to construct the ferries to replace two existing vessels, which have been operating between Kingston and Wolfe Island, and to and from Amherst Island, for decades. To ensure the new ferries are futureproof and to make them as sustainable as possible, the Ministry of Transportation decided that they should be electric ferries. The Amherst Islander II and Wolfe Islander IV are 72 and almost 100 metres in length and have a capacity for 40 vehicles and 75 vehicles respectively.
A lifeline for islanders
Both of the open-deck ferries feature 1B Ice Class hulls and have two diesel generators installed to allow hybrid- and full diesel propulsion. “With temperatures down to -25 degrees, and the ferries being the lifeline to the Islands, it is crucial to have a high level of redundancy. They have four, 1A Ice Class azimuth thrusters, so even if there is an issue with a thruster, the vessels can still continue operations. In addition, the vessels have two fully separated engine rooms, as well as two thruster rooms, battery rooms and switchboard rooms, which creates a highly redundant system. These ferries have to sail up to 22 hours a day.”
Damen is now working closely with the Ontario government to install the facilities that will enable the vessels to use the shore power supplied, via integrated shore charging and mooring systems. The vessels themselves will use an innovative, fully automatic charging system developed by Stemmann (a Wabtec company) which features motion compensation to ensure a stable connection between the ship and the shore, even in rough seas. And incredibly, the batteries can be charged up to 5,000 amps, which means that the larger ferry can be charged in just 10 minutes!
Fully charged in just 10 minutes!
As well as charging the ferries, the plan is that the shore battery stations can supply the local electricity grid in cases where there is high demand by means of load displacement. Therefore Damen is also working with Ontario Power Generation to achieve an integrated shore battery buffer system that serves both the grid and the ferries.
“Everything in this project has been custom-built and we have a fantastic collaboration with our customers, contractors and the OEMs. This is crucial to be able to succeed in such an innovative project. And it is great to know that Ontario’s new ferries will bring both extra capacity and make crossings faster, as well as greener for the 1.3 million passengers and 630,000 vehicles which travel on these routes every year!”