Drivers of electric cars know what ‘range anxiety’ means: will they get to their destination before their car’s battery goes flat? For FinFerries’ latest vehicle ferry, the battery-powered Elektra, the captain has no such fears: a display on the bridge console shows the exact status of the ship’s battery banks and whether they are being charged.
Bar graphs show the percentage of charge, not their actual energy content in MWh. “You only need to know that you have enough fuel in the tank,” the captain commented to Marine Electronics & Communications during our visit to the ship. And in the unlikely event that there is not enough charge to complete a trip, an alarm would sound as soon as the ferry sets off, prompting the captain to alert the engineer that the back-up gensets – which start automatically – will be called into use.
Electric power taken from the shoreside grid is its primary energy source, which is mostly generated in nuclear or hydro-electric station. At each end of its 10-minute crossing between Parainen and Nauvo in the Turku archipelago, Elektra has about five minutes to refresh its batteries through an automatic connection, made as soon as the vessel docks.
It is a double-ended ferry so the bridge has an all-round view, with the captain swivelling the command chair at each turnround. Bridge displays and controls are therefore doubled-up on either side, with everything reachable within a space measuring about 2 m square.
• Watch a video, made by Siemens during MEC’s visit, that shows Elektra’s shore connection and other features at http://bit.ly/MEC-Elektra
Elektra: main electrical suppliers
- Propulsion motors: Siemens
- Frequency converters: Siemens
- Low voltage electrical system: Siemens
- Battery system: Siemens
- Energy management system: Siemens
- Automation system: Siemens
- Thruster controls: Siemens
- Thrusters: Rolls-Royce
- Batteries: PBES
- Navaids: Furuno