Iconic Italian Lake Maggiore ferry gets hybrid retrofit with ABB technology

Sustainable transportation isn’t exclusively for newly built vessels. ABB will take its innovative technology to convert the long running San Cristoforo, a 386-tonne passenger and car ferry sailing in Lake Maggiore in Italy, to hybrid operation, helping reduce emissions and increase overall energy efficiency. The conversion of the San Cristoforo, built in 1965, will include the installation of a complete electric and propulsion system that will enable the vessel to operate in hybrid and zero-emission electric modes. The modernization utilizes ABB’s propulsion solutions including batteries and an energy storage control system.

The San Cristoforo, built in 1965
The San Cristoforo, built in 1965

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

“This modernization will allow the San Cristoforo to operate in the most environmentally-responsible way, and we are delighted to work with ABB on this project, given its unparalleled experience in developing, project managing and supporting shipboard hybrid systems,” said Alessandro Acquafredda, General Director, Gestione Navigazione Laghi.

Additionally, the refitting project will include the first order for the OnboardMicrogrid, 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 San Cristoforo to maximize the efficiency benefits of hybrid propulsion,” said Gestione Navigazione Laghi’s Alessandro Acquafredda, “It also allows for better utilization of space in the engine room and is time-efficient and straightforward to install.”

“Our Onboard Microgrid addresses a specific segment of the market, with smaller vessels playing an important role in shipping’s electric, digital and connected future,” said Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports.

The newly launched Onboard Microgrid is based on the principles of ABB’s award-winning power distribution system Onboard DC Grid™ with the proven ability to enable up to 20 percent energy efficiency in larger vessels. With the launch of the new compact-size solution, ABB makes similar efficiencies achievable for smaller, lower-power vessels operating over short distances. Onboard Microgrid can be used for vessels running on batteries, fuel cells, or as fuel cell/battery hybrids.

“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.

With over half of its global revenue generated from solutions that directly address the causes of climate change, ABB is at the forefront of sustainable development worldwide.

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