Seaspan Ferries to field trial Corvus Energy’s Blue Whale ESS

British Columbia-based Seaspan Ferries is set to take the first delivery of Corvus Energy’s Blue Whale large-scale energy storage system (ESS), which will be field trialled on one of its cargo ferries.

The Blue Whale ESS has been designed for large vessels, such as cruise ships, large Ro-Pax and Ro-Ro ferries, and cargo ships. According to Corvus Energy, Blue Whale’s rack-free design of stacking modular blocks provides the industry’s highest volumetric battery room energy density and, consequently, maximises a ship owner’s passenger or payload opportunities.

Corvus Energy believes that Blue Whale’s applicability to bigger ships makes it a ‘ground-breaking’ system.

For its inaugural field trial, the Blue Whale battery system will be installed onboard Seaspan Reliant, a Ro-Ro drop-trailer cargo ferry built in 2016 that sails the Salish Sea, with service between British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

The Blue Whale ESS will replace an in-service first generation Corvus AT6500 ESS in the Seaspan Reliant’s existing battery room, increasing the vessel’s energy storage capacity from 545 kWh to 1892 kWh. Installation of the new Blue Whale system is scheduled to take place this summer, when Seaspan also plans to relocate the Seaspan Reliant’s AT6500 system onto sister vessel, Seaspan Swift.

Once installed, performance data from the ESS will be collected automatically, analysed and monitored remotely through Corvus’ cloud-based monitoring and optimisation system, providing valuable feedback to the R&D team.

The Blue Whale field trial and all key maritime authority certifications are expected to be completed by spring 2022, at which time commercial deliveries will commence.

With three and a half times the previous energy capacity, Seaspan will be able to expand the use of battery power beyond spinning reserve to also provide fuel-efficient peak shaving, load balancing, and even zero-emission operation on battery power only.

‘The increased battery capacity will give us operational flexibility to enhance service levels while reducing emissions and fuel consumption,’ said Harly Penner, Director of Fleet Renewal and Maintenance at Seaspan Ferries. ‘We are excited to partner with Corvus again. They have been outstanding collaborators in our quest towards decarbonisation through fleet hybridisation and electrification.’

Sean Puchalski, EVP Strategy & Business Planning at Corvus Energy, commented: ‘Seaspan has been an important partner for Corvus Energy. They were amongst the first to install our batteries in North America. Their extensive experience on our battery systems and knowledgeable team makes them the ideal field trial partner.

‘Corvus Energy is grateful for the generous funding provided to both Corvus and Seaspan by Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, an initiative of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.’

Richard Wing, Chief Research & Development Officer at Corvus Energy, added: ‘The field trial is an important pre-commercial activity that enables the development team to validate requirements for a high-volume robotic production line and a range of complex post-production processes. During this time of restricted travel due to COVID-19, being able to conduct the field trial in the same location as our Canadian development and manufacturing facilities is a huge benefit and allows us to stay on schedule for commercial product release.’

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor