Finland’s oldest ferry goes all-electric

From steam to diesel and now electricity: the oldest operating ferry in Finland has become the nation’s first all-electric passenger vessel after being fitted with Visedo power.

The City of Turku has seen the historic Föri ferry relaunched, complete with a new zero-emission electric drivetrain that will deliver greater efficiency, less noise and reduced operating costs.

The Föri initially entered service in 1904 after the City of Turku commissioned local shipyards Aktiebolaget Vulcan to build a city commuter ferry to take passengers across the Aura River to Åbo.

Since then the distinctive little orange boat – named after the Swedish word for ferry, färja – has traversed its route nonstop back and forth across the river for more than a century to become a beloved transport icon for the city.

Turku commissioned local boatyards Mobimar to complete the upgrade, where the vessel was dry-docked in March this year. Mobimar oversaw the removal of the boat’s diesel-powered hydraulic motor and the old control system. The new installed system was eight tons lighter; consisting of two Visedo permanent magnet motor drives and two Visedo DC/DC converters which control the ferry’s DC grid.

The new vessel draws power from batteries that are charged overnight, with the new power system simultaneously improving redundancy and making it possible to run on one or two motors – particularly important during icy conditions. This also allows future motor maintenance to be done in shifts, with no interruption to vessel operation.

The DC/DC converters serve to increase the battery voltage to a level that is more suitable for the motor drives. This minimises losses while maximising performance and reliability.

Visedo Project Engineer Heikki Sallinen said:
“The Föri ferry is a national treasure but with its old diesel engine, fuel consumption and emissions were high and overall efficiency poor. Visedo power brings the 100-year-old vessel into the 21st century without changing its character and delivers zero-emission transport for Turku.

“The revolution to electrify the world’s diesel transport is already underway. After powering Asia’s first hybrid electric ferry in Taiwan and continuing to work on the project to power the world’s biggest E-ferry in Denmark, at home Visedo is proud to help transform Finland’s oldest ferry into its first all-electric vessel.”

Latest Tweets from the IIMS