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Content archived on 2023-04-13

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All aboard: Fully electric ferry completes its first commercial voyage

An electrified car and passenger ferry has made its debut between two islands in Denmark. It will help limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from maritime transport.

Transport and Mobility icon Transport and Mobility

The international shipping industry is responsible for about 2.5 % of global GHG emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In April 2018, the IMO adopted a strategy to reduce GHG emissions from shipping by at least 40 % from the 2008 level by the end of 2030. Similarly, the European Commission also set out a strategy to reduce GHG emissions from shipping. This industry represents about 13 % of the overall EU GHG emissions from the transport sector, as stated on the European Commission website. Reflecting intensified efforts to decarbonise maritime transport and supported by the EU-funded E-ferry project, an all-electric ferry that can carry about 30 vehicles and 200 passengers has sailed between the ports of Soeby (Søby) and Fynshav located on the Danish islands of Aeroe (Ærø) and Als. Quoted in a press release, Anil Srivastava, CEO of project partner Leclanché, states: “With its 4.3MWh capacity, the E-ferry represents a new milestone in commercial marine propulsion. Over one year, it will prevent the release of 2000 tonnes of CO2, 42 tonnes of NOX [nitrogen oxide], 2.5 tonnes of particulates and 1.4 tonnes of SO2 [sulfur dioxide] into the atmosphere.”

Longer distances

Leclanché provided the lithium-ion battery system to the electric ferry Ellen, “the precursor to a new era in the commercial marine sector,” Srivastava adds. “This project demonstrates that today we can replace fossil fuel thermal drives with clean energy, and thus contribute to the fight against global warming and pollution for the well-being of our communities.” According to a press release on the project website, Ellen can sail up to 22 NM between charges, “which is 7 times farther than previously possible for an electric ferry. The groundbreaking project is in its final stages, where the electric ferry is put into normal operation and needs to demonstrate that it is possible to complete up to 7 return-trips per day, between Søby and Fynshav.”

Market uptake

The E-ferry (E-ferry – prototype and full-scale demonstration of next generation 100% electrically powered ferry for passengers and vehicles) project was launched with the overall objective of introducing a newly developed, energy-efficient design concept with lightweight equipment and materials. Project partners hope that the concept will be applied on a larger scale among relevant industry and ferry operators. The project website states: “Τhe objective beyond the project duration is to reach a level of approx. 10 more E-ferries in operation in Europe and worldwide every year reaching a total of 10 or more by 2020, 100 or more by 2030 thus saving (in rough figures) 10-30,000 tonnes of CO2 annually by 2020 and 100-300,000 tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030.” The other route to be covered by the E-ferry project is Søby-Fåborg in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea, connecting the island of Ærø to the mainland. For more information, please see: E-ferry project website



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