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ABB to modernize Italian lakes ferry with hybrid conversion project

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ABB will convert the 1965-built ferry San Cristoforo for hybrid operation by fitting it with an electric power and propulsion system, helping reduce emissions and increase overall energy efficiency

The conversion of San Cristoforo, a 386-tonne passenger and car ferry sailing in Lake Maggiore in Italy, will see an installation of a complete power and propulsion system that will enable the vessel’s operation in hybrid and zero-emission modes. The turnkey modernization utilizes ABB’s solutions including batteries and energy storage control system.

The ferry, owned and operated by Gestione Navigazione Laghi, carries up to 450 passengers and 27 vehicles. Following the conversion, San Cristoforo passengers will benefit from a quieter, smoother ride along the lake with less onboard vibration, noise and exhaust fumes.

“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.

San Cristoforo has been originally powered by a pair of conventional 310 kW diesel main engines driving twin shaft lines propellers. The comprehensive retrofit project will bring additional operational efficiencies by reducing the shaftline components and basing the new propulsion solution on a direct shaft line at both ends of the vessel. Following the conversion, the controllable pitch propellers will be replaced with a simpler, more efficient fixed pitch propellers that will help improve the overall fuel economy of the ferry.

ABB’s scope of supply will include new propulsion motors, diesel-generator sets, transformers and switchboards. Additionally, the modernization project marks a debut order for Onboard Microgrid, a compact DC grid platform recently launched by ABB to help smaller vessels optimize their fuel efficiency by making the best use of available power.

Onboard Microgrid will allow the vessel to optimize energy efficiency by pooling hotel and propulsion power sources via a DC-link, so that generator sets or batteries can be called on based on user needs, in either diesel, hybrid or electric modes.

“The San Cristoforo conversion is a milestone project for ABB as it underpins our capability to modernize ships of any age, size and type so that they can take advantage of the efficiency benefits of hybrid operation,” said Jyri Jusslin, Head of Global Service, ABB Marine & Ports.

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