Electric cars are taking over. Only this week, Tesla’s market value overtook Ford for the first time.
Now it seems that electric ferries might be next.
German conglomerate company Siemens has been working alongside Fjellstrand, a Norwegian shipyard, to create the world’s first electric car ferry. The resulting vehicle creates no carbon dioxide emissions whatsoever.
One of the leading men behind the project is Siemens engineer Odd Moen, whose vision it was to create a silent, clean energy vessel to sail the Norwegian fjords.
“For more than 100 years, there have been battery-powered submarines that run solely on electricity,” says Moen on the Siemens website. “That got us wondering why we couldn’t bring such a drive system concept to the surface, so to speak.”
The process of bringing this ambitious project to completion has been in the works for almost twenty years, but the first ferry has been in operation for two years (on a trial basis). Now that the trials have been successful, talks are in place to expand the concept.
Ampere, the first electrical vessel of its kind, has set the precedent for what is to come; a cleaner, greener Norway. Traditional diesel based ferries are reliable, but cause a great deal of co2 pollution, making them an unsustainable and environmentally damaging form of transport. Now that the government have implemented ‘requirements for all new ferry licensees to deliver zero- or low-emission alternatives‘, the electric model’s popularity looks set to increase dramatically.
“We continue the work with low-emission ferries because we believe it will benefit the climate, Norwegian industry and Norwegian jobs,” said Prime Minister Erna Solberg in April 2016.
According to the BBC:
In addition to new-builds, the marine division of Siemens, which developed the technology for Ampere, believes 84 ferries are ripe for conversion to electric power. And 43 ferries on longer routes would benefit from conversion to hybrids that use diesel engines to charge their batteries.
If this were done, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions would be cut by 8,000 tonnes per year and CO2 emissions by 300,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to the annual emissions from 150,000 cars, according to a report penned jointly by Siemens and the environmental campaign group, Bellona.
Long-distance ferries are not well suited to electrification, but about 70% of Norway’s ferries cover relatively short crossings, so switching to electric power would pay for itself in a few years, according to the report.
Each ferry would save about a million litres of diesel per year, helping to reduce energy costs by 60% or more, says Moen, “The electricity to power Ampere, with its 360 passengers and 120 cars, across a six kilometre-wide fjord costs about 50 kroner (£4.65; $5.80),” he says.
Once again proving that clean energy is not only environmentally sound, but financially sound as well.