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South Korea Gets its First Electric Ferry

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Image courtesy ABB

Published Jan 28, 2021 8:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Building on its work P&O Ferries, the Washington State Ferries and other customers, technology firm ABB is going to be assisting with the construction of South Korea's first all-electric ferry. 

Haemin Heavy Industries, a small aluminum-vessel shipyard in Busan, will be building the new 100-passenger, all-electric ferry for the Busan Port Authority. It is the first government contract issued under a plan to replace 140 South Korean state-owned vessels with new, clean-power models by 2030. The project is part of the South Korean government's broader pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Climate Accord.

“Being commissioned to build the first ever fully electric vessel for the South Korean market is a great honor,” said Hyeong-seok Oh, CEO, Haemin Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. “We are looking forward to working with ABB, whose proven technologies and long presence in South Korea are a key part of this landmark project.”

The new catamaran ferry will operate at speeds of about 13 knots, shuttling passengers between the north and south sides of the port. A full return journey will take about one hour. 

The ferry will have two one-megawatt-hour battery packs on board, which will store enough power for up to four return journeys between charges. The vessel will recharge from shore power during overnight stops. ABB will provide the DC grid distribution system and the power and energy management system for the propulsion and all auxiliary power loads. 

Electrification is the most popular option for eliminating point-source emissions from ferries, including (in combination with green shore power) near-complete decarbonization. According to the Maritime Battery Forum, over 130 battery-powered ferries are in operation today and more than 90 more are on order.