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Development of new, powerful battery means long-range electric ferries on the horizon

Reducing emissions and cutting operating costs – just two of the benefits waiting for the first long-range, 100% electrically powered passenger and vehicle ferries. An announcement in May brings the reality closer as the partner of an EU-funded project announces the market launch of a modular, lithium-ion battery system for ferries.
Development of new, powerful battery means long-range electric ferries on the horizon
Leclanché, one of the E-FERRY project’s partners has created the first marine battery system of its type approved by international certification. It has recently announced the market launch of its Marine Rack System (MRS) which E-FERRY, supported by the EU, will harness on the voyage between island Aeroe (Ærø) and the mainland. E-FERRY’s design is not the first electric ferry to be put into operation, the Norwegian Ampere currently sails under electrical power, but it is limited to a distance of three nautical miles. Another purely electric ferry is the Ar Vag Tredan that was built in France and is operated by Lorient Agglomération. It uses 128 super capacitors provided by Batscap and is also made of aluminium. It is quite a bit smaller than the Ampere and doesn’t have the ability to transport vehicles.

Fully electric, the E-FERRY project’s boat will able to cover distances of over 20 nautical miles between charges and will carry both passengers and vehicles. To gain this 20 nautical mile range it needs a large capacity battery. The battery capacity provided by Leclanche's marine optimised NMC battery modules is 4.3 MWh – making it the biggest capacity battery seen to date.

E-FERRY has now formulated the overall design of the 100% electric ferry that is based on an innovative concept: an optimised hull and propulsion system, a high-energy battery pack and the use of materials and modules that reduce overall weight – the capstan and wheel house will be made from aluminium, for example. The project has also identified the composite materials to be used, and is working on the necessary adaptations at the on-shore facilities in the Søby, Fynshav and Fåborg harbours. The announcement that the project partners have now launched their MRS comes at the perfect time for E-FERRY to turn their designs into an operational ferry. Construction work on the hull began in June 2016 and is now nearing completion.

The electric ferry, a single-ended, roll-on-roll-off, will be charged by an automated shore connection system to be placed on the onshore ramp in Søby harbor. The charging system will connect automatically, via plugs, when the ferry arrives and charge each side of the vessel separately, up to 2 x 2MW DC at a time. The charger is the first high power DC charger on the market and will allow the ferry relatively short port-side stays of 15-20 minutes.

The benefits will be great: the electric ferry will reduce the island of Aeroe's annual emissions with approximately 2 000 tonnes CO2, 41 500 kg NOx, 1 350 kg SO2 and 2 500 kg particulates. The groundbreaking design will also reduce operating costs as it will bring down travel times in comparison with existing diesel ferries. Despite the importance of the EU ferry market, the majority of European ferries are more than 20-years-old. The fleet is in need of newer, more energy efficient and less CO2 emitting vessels. Europe has around 900 ferries for both cargo/cars and passengers, which account for 35% of the world fleet.

The project brings partners from Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark and Greece together to create the most efficient small- to medium-sized ferry hull that has been built for decades. As E-FERRY explains, their design meets the latest and highest damage stability criterion for ferries, being a two-compartment ship going well beyond the safety requirement for operation in coastal areas.

For more information, please see:
project website

Source: Based on project information and media reports

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