World’s first electrical car ferry has been launched in Norway, marking an important step towards emission-free ferry transport.
The 80 metres long and 20 metres wide boat is powered by two 450kW electrical motors drawing electricity from a lithium ion battery aboard, which is 1,600 times as powereful as a standard car battery. Two additional battery packs are placed at the pier at each port to provide extra charge while the ferry is waiting.
Norwegian ship owner Norled will use the ferry to serve on the 6km long, 20 minute route between the ports of Lavik and Oppedal on the opposite sides of the Sognefjord, the largest fjord in Norway. The ferry, with the capacity for 360 passengers and 120 vehicles will cover the route 34 times a day. Each journey, the ferry consumes about 150kW hours of energy, corresponding to a three-day electricity supply of a standard Norwegian household.
To minimise the ferry’s energy consumption, the designers used light aluminium instead of the conventional steel to manufacture its hull. The aluminium makes the ferry not only half the mass of a regular one but also doubles the expected lifetime and reduces maintenance cost.
Norled estimates the battery technology will allow it to save up to 60 per cent on fuel. The firm is already considering further 50 routes where the electrical ferries could be deployed.
The technology was built jointly by shipbuilder Fjellstrand and German engineering firm Siemens, who was responsible for the electric propulsion system, batteries and hydro-powered charging stations.
Charging stations are housed in small buildings about the size of newsstands. The ship’s onboard batteries are recharged directly from the grid at night when the ferry is not in use.
The firms involved hope that as battery technology becomes cheaper and more efficient; they will be able to scale up the production of electrical ferries to completely phase out polluting diesel-powered boats in the future.