ABB to provide hybrid-electric propulsion for new MaineDOT ferry connecting island community to mainland

ABB: Revolutionizing Seagoing Technology with Hybrid-Electric Ferries

To replace an existing diesel-powered ferry, the new vessel will demonstrate the preference of publicly funded organizations in the US for the high reliability and lower emissions achievable using hybrid-electric seagoing technology. ABB’s scope of supply covers hybrid-electric propulsion and energy storage systems. ABB’s award-winning onboard DC grid power distribution system will ensure optimal use of energy sources, while the ABB Ability Marine Remote Diagnostic System will enable the monitoring of onboard systems to maximize vessel uptime.

Maine DOT double-ended hybrid-electric ferry rendering (image credit: Gilbert Associates Inc.).

The 207-foot (62-meter)-long newbuild vessel will transport up to 200 passengers and 40 vehicles between Lincolnville and Islesboro, around three nautical miles from the mainland. Islesboro is designated a ‘Medically Underserved Area’, where approximately 600 year-round residents rely on ferry connections to access healthcare and other critical services.

By replacing the 35-year-old Margaret Chase Smith, the new hybrid-electric vessel will cut fuel consumption by an estimated 100,000 gallons per year, equivalent to around 1,100 tons in CO2 emissions. The project contributes to the Maine Clean Transportation Roadmap, which targets carbon neutrality by 2045.

“The new hybrid-electric Lincolnville–Islesboro ferry will make a significant contribution to our efforts to decarbonize transportation in the state of Maine,” said Mackenzie Kernbergian, P.E., Senior Project Manager, Multimodal Program, Maine Department of Transportation. “ABB has been a great partner to us throughout the design process, and we look forward to seeing their system in action. Given the critical need for vessel reliability and uptime on this route, ABB’s service footprint and digital monitoring capabilities set them apart from the competition in our search for a systems integrator.”

In 2021, ABB won a contract with Maine ferry operator Casco Bay Lines to supply a hybrid power and propulsion system with shore-charging capability to a 164-foot (50-meter) double-ended passenger ferry serving the Portland-Peaks Island route. Due to enter service later this year, the vessel promises an estimated 800-ton reduction in annual CO2 emissions. Elsewhere in the US ferry market, ABB has recently been involved in a fleet electrification project for Washington State Ferries – the largest ferry system in the country – and supplied the power and propulsion package for the latest ‘Maid of the Mist’ Niagara Falls tour ferries, the first fully electric vessels built in the US.

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