The use of innovative boat connection and charging technologies is reducinc emissions dramatically, as well as improving operational efficiency and safety

Cavotec has led the development of shore power technologies since the 1980s with its range of Alternative Maritime Power (.AMP) shore- and ship-based systems. The group has launched a number of connection and charging technologies in recent years, including manual, automated, reel, and dispenser connection systems.s the shipping industry takes steps to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of its vessels, technologies that enable the connection and charging of electrically powered ships - e-vessels - are attracting growing interest across the sector. Global engineering group Cavotec is leading the development of innovative vessel connection and charging technologies in the segment - many of which are already in service and making dramatic reductions in emissions, as well as improvements in safety and operational efficiency.

The carbon-fiber, battery-powered hybrid passenger ferry, Vision of the Fjords, relies on two Cavotec low-voltage shore power dispenser systems to charge its battery units.

Vision of the Fjords is now in operation between Flam in the Aurland fjord and Gudvangen, in the UNESCO World Heritage- listed Naeroyfjord, in southwest Norway, a distance of some 20 nautical miles, and a crossing that the 42m-long vessel is scheduled to make around 700 times every year. The vessel, operated by The Fjords shipping company, can carry up to 400 passengers.

A cleaner capital

Cavotec has also supplied a manual connection unit for Movitz, a 23m passenger ferry that serves as a commuter service in the Swedish

capital of Stockholm. Movitz had operated for many years as a conventional vessel, but in 2014 was retrofitted to run as a battery- powered vessel. Its operator claims that the vessel is "the world's first supercharged electric ferry", and describes it as "a momentous occasion

for electric transport and for the wider marine industry".

Back in Norway, one of the most advanced systems Cavotec has developed moors and charges the world's first fully battery-powered passenger and vehicle ferry, the Ampere, at two berths. The systems have been in service since early 2015.

The two applications integrate Cavotec's vacuum-based, automated mooring technology MoorMaster, a shore power unit housed in a 9m-high tower, and the group's Automatic Plug-in System (.APS) to ensure fast, safe and frequent charging of the Ampere's battery unit -17 times a day at each berth.

MoorMaster is an award-winning vacuum-based automated mooring technology that eliminates the need for conventional mooring lines. Remote-controlled vacuum pads, either recessed in or mounted on the quayside or pontoons, moor and release vessels in a matter of seconds. The APS automates the connection of cranes, ships and other mobile equipment to electrical power.

The MoorMaster mooring unit signals to the shore connection unit when the ship is secure, and a laser sensor then guides the AMP connector to a hatch in the side of the vessel, connecting the ship's battery to shoreside electrical power to commence the charging process.

Because MoorMaster is used to hold the vessel in position, the ferry's propeller system is switched off for nine minutes during each 10-minute boarding process, giving more than sufficient time to connect to the APS system to charge the battery unit ready for the next crossing.

With some 6,000 calls made annually on the route, the air quality improvement and fuel cost savings compared with conventional mooring and power systems are considerable.

Cavotec is currently installing similar systems at two ferry berths in Finland for use with a hybrid ferry operated by FinFerries. The 90m-long vessel will carry up to 90 vehicles, and is due to enter service in summer 2017. It will make crossings - at 15-minute intervals during the day, and one round trip per hour at night - throughout the entire year and in all weather conditions.

"These installations clearly illustrate how effectively Cavotec technologies are combined to ensure the quick and safe connection of

vessels to electrical power, especially in the passenger and vehicle ferry segment, where short turnaround times are critical," says Sofus Gedde-Dahl, product manager of the MoorMaster e-vessels at Cavotec.

Pooling expertise

Earlier this year, the company entered into a cooperation agreement with Finnish marine and energy group Wartsila to develop the world's first marine wireless charging and automated mooring concept.

The agreement incorporates Wartsila's innovative wireless vessel charging system, which is based on inductive power transfer and MoorMaster.

According to Cavotec, significant interest already exists for this system, with the first prototype scheduled for installation in Norway during the first half of 2017.

Because e-vessels tend to berth for relatively short periods of time, reducing the time it takes to moor such vessels is therefore critical to ensure enough time for a ship's battery unit to receive a sufficient charge before the next sailing trip.

"MoorMaster considerably reduces mooring times, thereby optimizing the amount of time required for a vessel to receive a charge," says Gedde-Dahl.

And in addition to cutting mooring times, MoorMaster completely removes the need for mooring lines, making mooring operations safer than before. And in many cases, the innovative technology enables ports to make considerable infrastructure savings.

MoorMaster's vacuum units hold vessels at set distances from the berth, thereby avoiding the need for ships to be repositioned along the quay - resulting in operational improvements and reduced emissions from ships and tugs.

To date, some 200 MoorMaster units have performed more than 200,000 mooring operations at 30 - soon to be 42 - ferry, bulk handling, ro-ro, container and lock applications worldwide.

"Combining MoorMaster with our APS and AMP technologies has enabled us to deliver the time savings and other operational gains that are so critical to e-vessel operations. We see considerable potential for our technologies in e-vessel applications worldwide," concludes Gedde-Dahl.