Electric ferry boat

Electric ferry claims record for longest journey on a single battery charge

Image credit: Danfoss

A battery-powered Danish ferry has demonstrated its capability by sailing 50 nautical miles (92km) without recharging, during a world conference on energy efficiency. The distance is said to mark a new world record.

The vessel, Ellen, normally runs between the islands of Aero and Als, sailing 22NM (40km) from harbour to harbour before recharging. It made its record-breaking run on 9 June while returning from the International Energy Agency’s 7th Global Conference on Energy Efficiency, which was held in Sønderborg, Denmark.

Henrik Hagbarth Mikkelsen, a senior lecturer at Marstal Naval Academy, who helped specify the technical solutions for the ferry during its design phase, was on board for the voyage. He explained: “The 92-kilometre trip on a single battery charge is the longest planned distance for an electric ferry capable of carrying both passengers and vehicles to date anywhere on the globe. We are talking about a clear record.”

Ellen was developed under the EU-backed E-Ferry project, costing €21.3m, and was launched in 2019. This is around 40 per cent more expensive than a conventional diesel vessel, but operating costs are 24 per cent lower.

The ferry was built by Danish shipyard Søby Værft, and has a 4.3MWh battery system. Danfoss Editron supplied the electric drivetrain, comprising two 750kW propulsion motors and two 250kW thruster motors, as well as the vessel’s power management system and the onshore charging station.

After Ellen’s first year of operation a report concluded that a future fully electric E-ferry would break even when compared to the diesel-electric best alternative within four years of operation, after which the operational savings of the E-ferry would apply year for year. Total lifetime investment was estimated at €52m for best diesel-electric alternative, €50m for the E-Ferry prototype and €46m for the E-Ferry series.

Following the recent voyage, Kimmo Rauma, vice president at Danfoss Editron, said: “Ellen is an excellent example of the future for electric transport. It’s cleaner, greener, and more efficient than her fossil-fuel competitors. Electrifying maritime transport is a clear-cut way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Danfoss Editron plans to submit the world record to Guinness World Records.

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