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Battery-powered ferry set to create waves – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

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Trials of a new battery-powered ferry connecting a Danish island to the mainland will begin shortly. The EU-funded innovation is expected to help ferry operators cut emissions and increase the frequency of their services.


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Developed through the EU-funded E-FERRY project, the first 100 {f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} electric-powered passenger ferry will use a new modular, lithium-ion battery system. This will enable vessels to cover distances of more than 20 nautical miles between charging, a dramatic improvement on the current performance of electric ferries.

Europe has around 900 ferries for cargo, cars and passengers, which account for 35 {f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} of the world fleet. Despite the importance of the EU ferry market, the majority of European ferries are over 20 years old. Therefore, the fleet is in need of newer, more energy-efficient vessels that emit less carbon dioxide.

“The vessel is probably around 80 {f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} complete,” says E-FERRY project coordinator Trine Heinemann from Ærø Kommune in Denmark. “Some of the major components like batteries and electrical system parts will be delivered over the next couple of months, after which time they will be installed, integrated and tested.”

Heinemann expects the demonstration vessel – running between the small Danish island of Ærø and the mainland – will be operational around June 2018. The project recently secured type-approval of the new battery system from the international classification society DNV GL.

Ready for launch

“We’ll then spend about a year running the ferry under normal conditions while collecting data on energy use, energy efficiency and so on,” Heinemann explains. “There are currently very few guidelines on the design of electric ferries, so we hope this will pave the way for future projects and help authorities in developing guidelines and rules.”

The project has also completed important work harbour-side. The electric ferry, a single-ended, roll-on-roll-off vehicle, will be charged by an automated shore connection system that has been designed to work exceptionally efficiently. The charging system will connect automatically as soon as the ferry docks and will require the vessel to remain port-side for between 15 and 20 minutes.

Results from the trial will enable the project team to fully assess the potential impact of this innovation on a sector ready for change.

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