McKay's marine and engineering divisions, in collaboration with Wellington Electric Boat Building Company (WEBBCo), achieved a groundbreaking feat by delivering the first fully electric passenger ferry in the Southern Hemisphere, the Wellington electric ferry, Ika Rere. This innovative project involved designing and installing a turnkey power and propulsion system, including electrical engineering, vessel automation, electric propulsion, energy storage, and onshore charging integration. McKay's expertise and problem-solving skills were instrumental in overcoming complex engineering challenges, resulting in a successful implementation that enables the ferry to operate entirely on battery power.
The challenge faced by McKay and WEBBCo was to design and install a fully electric power and propulsion system for the first electric passenger ferry in the Southern Hemisphere. The goal was to create a custom solution that would enable the ferry to operate entirely on battery power without the need for any other energy sources such as diesel gensets or solar power. The project required solving complex engineering problems, ensuring compliance with regulations for electric vessels, and meeting the power requirements for the ferry to run on a commercial schedule.
McKay, in collaboration with WEBBCo, provided a comprehensive electrical scope for the ferry. This included electrical engineering design and installation, vessel automation, electric propulsion, energy/battery storage design and installation, and onshore charging integration and design. The turnkey solution encompassed all aspects of the electrical system, from the battery storage and energy system to the automation and controls.
McKay’s engineers designed and built a custom battery and energy storage system that met the power requirements of the passenger ferry. The solution demonstrated McKay’s expertise in battery and energy storage technology, as well as the associated systems. Throughout the project, complex engineering problems such as charger integration, navigational aids, cooling integration, and control were successfully resolved, ensuring the ferry’s ability to operate on a commercial schedule.
The result of McKay and WEBBCo’s efforts is the Wellington electric ferry, named Ika Rere, which is the first of its kind in New Zealand. The 19-meter carbon-fibre catamaran can carry up to 132 passengers across Wellington Harbour. With the fully electric power and propulsion system provided by McKay, the ferry can operate at a nominal 20 knot service speed, catering to commuter peak sailings followed by a relaxed mid-day schedule made possible by rapid charging.
The Wellington electric ferry stands out from hybrid vessels as it relies solely on electricity for its operations, with no diesel genset, solar power, or shore recharge. The project successfully ensured compliance with DNV-GL and Maritime NZ regulations for electric vessels, particularly in terms of emergency and redundancy measures.
The completion of this project marks a significant milestone in the adoption of electric transportation in New Zealand’s maritime industry. McKay’s collaboration with WEBBCo has demonstrated their ability to deliver innovative, sustainable, and technologically advanced solutions in the field of marine engineering.