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Friday, February 19, 2021 

Canadian operator Seaspan Ferries and Corvus Energy have reached an agreement for the first delivery of Corvusí Blue Whale ESS, to be installed onboard a Seaspan cargo ferry.

Blue Whale is a new large-scale energy storage system (ESS) designed for large ships with high zero-emission energy demand, such as cruise ships, large Ro-Pax and Ro-Ro ferries, and cargo ships. Its rack-free design of stacking modular blocks provides high volumetric battery room energy density and, consequently, maximises passenger or payload opportunities.

For its inaugural field trial, the Blue Whale battery system will be installed on board Seaspan Reliant, a ro-ro drop-trailer cargo ferry built in 2016 that sails the Salish Sea multiple times a day, between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

The Blue Whale ESS will replace an in-service first generation Corvus AT6500 ESS in the existing battery room, increasing the vessel’s energy storage capacity from 545 kWh to 1892 kWh.

Gord Miller, VP Seaspan Ferries, said: “Seaspan Ferries is committed to caring for the environment, and this is an exciting opportunity to play a role in the transformation of shipping towards a greener and more sustainable industry. This trial will also provide valuable experience locally, as personnel from Vard Marine, BC Hydro and the University of British Columbia will provide integration design, shore charging from the grid infrastructure, and engine efficiency studies respectively—all important areas of expertise to develop as British Columbia develops its coastal emissions reduction plans.”

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

Installation of the Blue Whale system is scheduled for Summer 2021, at which time Seaspan plans to relocate the AT6500 system onto sister vessel, Seaspan Swift.

“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,” said Sean Puchalski, EVP Strategy and Business Planning, Corvus Energy.

“Although Seaspan Reliant is a relatively small vessel for a Blue Whale system and the retrofit will be done on a very tight schedule, the challenging conditions make it ideal for a trial site,” said Corvus Chief Research and Development Officer Richard Wing. “Moving and situating the Blue Whale modules and pack controllers into the existing battery room will also test and validate the materials handling equipment and service tools we have developed. Moreover, during this time of restricted travel, 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.”

Blue Whale commissioning and trials will be carried out while the vessel is in full-service operation during the remaining months of 2021. 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. Once installed, performance data from the ESS will be collected automatically, analysed and monitored remotely through Corvus’ cloud-based monitoring and optimisation system, providing 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.

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