Incat Getting Closer to Delivering World’s Largest Electric Passenger and Vehicle Ferry

Incat Tasmania grabbed the headlines a few years back when it initially announced that it had secured a contract to build the largest and one of the greenest aluminum ships in the world for Buquebus, a South American ferry operator and long-term Incat customer.
Incat is building world's first and largest all-electric ferry 8 photos
Photo: Incat Tasmania
Incat is building world's first and largest all-electric ferryIncat is building world's first and largest all-electric ferryIncat is building world's first and largest all-electric ferryIncat Electric designIncat ArmasIncat ArmasIncat Daezer
The Australian shipyard has shared an update on this project, the Utility Ro-Pax design, and revealed they negotiated some changes with the client, the most important of which is the shift from liquefied natural gas (LNG) to electric power.

The company’s Incat Electric design has opened a new market for Incat and attracted a lot of interest, which is not surprising, seeing how the whole world is moving towards electrification and zero-emission solutions.

Conceived by Revolution Design, Incat’s in-house design office, and built by Incat, the 426-foot (130-meter) ship is still under construction, but when complete, it will be the world’s largest all-electric aluminum ferry. The 13,000-GT vessel will accommodate 2,100 passengers and 226 vehicles and will cruise between Argentina and Uruguay.

While Incat originally designed the ferry with four dual fuel engines meant to make cruising environmentally friendly by burning LNG, the shipyard is now working to replace the original power plant with two electric motors (5 – 9.6 MW) beneath the hull, as per Buquebus’s request.

“This is a unique opportunity for Incat,” admitted Craig Clifford, managing director at Incat. “Whilst there are always challenges if you change any aspect of the design of a ship part way through a build, in simple terms, this is just swapping one method of propulsion for another. It will, however, have significant environmental benefits and open up a whole new market for these types of vessels.”

This change in the propulsion system involves a significant redesign, but it seems the high-speed craft manufacturer will make it possible by replacing 500 tons of equipment and fuel tanks with 400 tons of batteries in order to keep the vessel lightweight. Using aluminum instead of steel to build the ferry will also halve its weight.

As the company emphasizes, “lightweight means less energy,” and their previously-built lightweight ships use “up to 40% less power than an equivalent steel ship, which means up to 40% less emissions.”

Moreover, the electric ferry will be equipped with pods instead of jets, as the target speed is 25 knots (29 mph/46 kph), and pods are known to work pretty well for this speed. The expected range is 100 nautical miles (115 miles/185 kilometers).

Incat says this ground-breaking vessel, set to be delivered in 2025, will revolutionize the world’s shipping fleet.

Unfortunately, shore power is a major problem at the moment, that’s why the company designed its Incat Electric with generators on, but when more shore charging facilities become available, electric ferries might become the new norm.
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About the author: Ancuta Iosub
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After spending a few years as a copy editor, Ancuta decided to put down the eraser and pick up the writer's pencil. Her favorites subjects are unusual car designs, travel trailers and everything related to the great outdoors.
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