A New Vision For Marine Power

20 May 2016


The Norwegian fjord Nærøyfjord is just one of two in the entire country to be named a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

To be named a World Heritage site, a natural space must contain areas “of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.” Given the environmental sensitivities of such sites, machines in those areas need to be operated carefully. Mindful of that fact, a ferry operator is introducing a hybrid craft that it said “pushes the possibilities of both green technology and passenger experience.”

The 40 m hybrid craft Vision of The Fjords utilizes a hybrid solution that allows it to operate on diesel engines up to the entrance of the Nærøyfjord where it then switches to silent running, emissions-free electric power, according to its owner, The Fjords DA.Fjords vessel pic 1

The vessel, which is 15 m wide and seats 400 people, has two MAN D2862LE422 engines, each delivering 749 kW. The engines are connected to ZF marine gearboxes through Centa CP clutches. For hybrid propulsion, the vessel relies on a pair of 150 kW Oswald permanent magnet electric motors. The vessel also has ABB’s Onboard DC Grid system, managing and controlling the power between its diesel engine, propeller and charging station.

Built from carbon fiber, the Vision of The Fjords also incorporates a special hull designed to minimize wake and reduce impact erosion on the area’s shoreline. Its design resembles a twisting mountain path enabling passengers to literally climb the vessel as they watch mountains rise 1800 m above the water.

Vision of The Fjords was designed and is being constructed by shipbuilder Brødrene Aa, located in Hyen on the west coast of Norway. The company will complete the project in less than a year from its original order date. The shipbuilder is known for its use of composite materials for fast ferry applications, first with fiberglass composites in the 1970s and today with carbon fiber composites.

The vessel will then transport tourists along the fjord between Flåm and Gudvangen, using its battery power to silently cruise between the mountainsides at 8.0 knots. The vessel will complete around 700 voyages a year, running in all seasons, including winter.

“We are accessing and showcasing some of the world’s most beautiful, yet vulnerable, natural areas,” said Rolf Sandvik, The Fjords DA chief executive officer.  “It’s our objective to do this in a responsible, sustainable and respectful manner.

“Many of the tourist boats in this area, including some of our own, are 50 to 60 years old. As operators, we are drawn here by the pristine environment and then proceed to poison it. It’s our vision to demonstrate that there is another way – by building a fleet that utilises the very latest clean technology to preserve this ancient, natural treasure that surrounds us.”

He said his company’s owners, Fjord1 and Flåm AS, are progressive organizations that are committed to responsible, environmentally friendly vessels that put passengers at the heart of the voyage experience.

“With their backing we’ll be looking to expand our fleet with more vessels like the Vision of The Fjords,” Sandvik said. “We take the environment we operate in very seriously and will work to safeguard it with ships that utilise the latest technology to deliver the optimum in green performance.”


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