Color Hybrid is a new plug-in hybrid ferry designed by Ulstein Verft in Norway. It is the world’s largest plug-in hybrid vessel. The ferry was developed as part of Color Line’s fleet-renewal programme to replace the company’s M/S Bohus ship.

Designed to run wholly on battery power, the vessel is recharged either via a power cable from Color Line’s shore-based Sandefjord power facility or by the ship’s onboard generators.

Steel-cutting for the hybrid ferry was held in July 2017 and the vessel was delivered in August 2019. The new vessel currently operates on the crossing between Sandefjord in Norway and Strømstad in Sweden.

Color Hybrid ferry design details

Designed by Fosen Yard, the Color Hybrid ferry design was awarded the Next Generation Ship Award at the Nor-Shipping 2017 exhibition. The 160m-long hybrid ferry is capable of accommodating 2,000 passengers and between 430 and 500 cars.

The vessel’s battery package offers approximately 5MWh and can operate for up to 60 minutes at speeds up to 12k. The ferry can store up to 450m³ of freshwater and 1,500m³ of water ballast. It also includes a waste-heat-recovery system (WHR), in addition to energy-saving equipment.

Construction of the new vessel met Norway’s flag requirements and the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register (NOR) standard.

Propulsion system

The ‘Ulstein hybrid propulsion concept’ is a combination of diesel-mechanical and diesel-electric systems and is more economical than the conventional diesel-electric system. It combines higher efficiency and better performance at high loads and excellent fuel consumption at low loads.

Color Hybrid battery charge and gas emissions levels

Color Line will use a shore power facility in Sandefjord and Norwegian ports to provide electricity for charging the ferry’s battery.

The new ferry minimises the emission of harmful greenhouse gases or nitrogen and sulphur compounds into the atmosphere. The merging of high-voltage shore connection with the battery hybrid propulsion system enables zero-emissions from the ferry.

The vessel operates on battery power while entering and exiting the Sandefjord harbour to avoid the release of harmful gases or compounds near the town.

Color Hybrid engine details

The ferry is equipped with Rolls-Royce’s Bergen B33:45L in-line diesel engines. At 600kW a cylinder, the new engines offer reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

“The vessel’s battery package offers approximately 5MWh, and can operate for up to 60 minutes at speeds up to 12k.”

With a 330mm bore and a 450mm stroke, the engine’s speed levels range between 450rpm and 750rpm for propulsion engines and between 720rpm and 750rpm for generator sets. The in-line engine cylinders have a power range between 3,600kW and 5,400kW.

The engines have a reduced fuel oil consumption rate and less visible smoke, complying with International Maritime Organisation Tier II and Tier III rules.

The cylinder unit comprises the head, liner, piston and upper conrod, which can be removed for overhaul in one unit.

Financing for the hybrid ferry

The new vessel was purchased with the aid of the Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing over a 12-year period from the delivery date.

GIEK (the Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency) and DnB Bank provided guarantees or structure offers to Color Group, the parent company of Color Line, to fund 80% of the ferry cost, equal to approximately NOK1bn ($117m).