Argentine-owned Buquebus has under construction the largest 100% electric high-speed catamaran ferry in the world

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Shipbuilders Incat Tasmania has begun constructing what they claim will be the world’s largest electric ferry boat. The 130-meter-long unit has been ordered by Buquebús, which offers passenger services between Buenos Aires and the Uruguayan ports of Colonia and Montevideo through the Río de la Plata. It was reported to have room for 2,100 travellers and 226 vehicles. Buquebus is owned by Argentine Juan Carlos López Mena

Plans for the ninth Incat vessel to join the Buquebus fleet were originally announced in 2019. That original design called for two aluminium hulls connected to a bridging section. Its top speed was expected to be around 37.5 knots. Incat Tasmania is expected to deliver the new unit by 2025.

Like previous Incat catamarans, Hull 096 will be constructed in aluminium and powered by water jets.  However, electric motors will drive water through the propulsion system in a first for the company. Previously, Incat vessels used diesel or dual-fuel engines.  According to Incat, while aluminium is a third of the weight of steel, design factors mean that an aluminium Incat is around half the weight of an equivalent steel vessel.

“Originally, this 130-meter ferry was to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, but after some discussions with the client, we were asked to replace the LNG plant with a zero-emission, battery-electric solution,” the company explained in a press release.

Incat Group founder and chairman Robert Clifford explained that “the customer wants this to happen, Incat wants this to happen, and whilst there are matters to be finalized, I am extremely confident that Incat can deliver this ground-breaking ship.”

“Obviously, there will always be the need for power supply in the ports the ship will visit, but we understand this is progressing positively. Our suppliers have already confirmed the batteries and electric motors to ensure they can deliver the necessary technology in the time frame we need,” Clifford went on.

Wärtsila will supply the energy management system, the power conversion system, the DC shore charging system, and the DC hub. The Finnish company will also supply eight electric motors, eight axial flow WXJ1100 waterjets, and the ProTouch propulsion control system. Wärtsila has subcontracted the energy storage system to Corvus Energy. The Norwegian company will supply the new vessel’s lightweight Dolphin NextGen energy storage system.

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