ABB to modernise Italian lakes ferry with hybrid conversion project

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ABB will convert the 1965-built passenger and car ferry San Cristoforo for hybrid and zero-emission operation by fitting it with an electric power and propulsion system. Owned and operated by Gestione Navigazione Laghi, the 386-ton vessel carries up to 450 passengers and 27 vehicles on Lake Maggiore in Italy. San Cristoforo is currently powered by a pair of conventional 310kW diesel main engines driving twin shaft line propellers. However, the conversion will see the vessel fitted with ABB batteries and an energy storage control system, as well as new propulsion motors, diesel generator sets, transformers and switchboards, and ABB’s new Onboard Microgrid DC grid platform. According to ABB, the retrofit project will bring additional operational efficiencies by reducing the shaftline components and basing the new propulsion solution on a direct shaftline at both ends of the vessel. Following the conversion, the controllable pitch propellers will be replaced with fixed pitch propellers to help improve the overall fuel economy of the ferry. Furthermore, Onboard Microgrid will pool hotel and propulsion power sources via a DC-link, enabling generator sets or batteries to be called on based on user needs, in either diesel, hybrid or electric modes. “This modernization will allow San Cristoforo to operate in the most environmentally responsible way, and we are delighted to work with ABB on this project, given the group’s extensive experience in developing, project managing and supporting shipboard hybrid systems,” said Alessandro Acquafredda, general director, Gestione Navigazione Laghi.

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Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.

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