First car ferry powered by electric drive system. photo: Siemens

Norway has developed the world’s first electric-powered car ferry. The 262-foot long vessel has a capacity of 120 cars and 360 passengers and will run across the Sognefjord fjord starting in 2015.

The vessel was designed with hulls made of aluminum instead of conventionally used steel to reduce overall weight, and shaped to minimize resistance in the water. The ferry will run on a 10-metric-ton battery that powers two electric motors One of the new ferry’s features is that it only takes 10 minutes to recharge.

Norway to Launch the World’s First Electric Ferry; will Take Only 10 Minutes to Recharge. photo via inHabitat

From Phys.Org: As a catamaran with two slim hulls, it offers less resistance in the water than a conventional vessel. Furthermore, the hulls are made of aluminum instead of steel, which is conventionally used. Rather than a diesel engine, the ferry is equipped with electric motors to drive the ship’s two screws. These motors are powered by a battery weighing 10 metric tons. All in all, the new vessel weighs only half as much as a ferry of conventional design. This saving has a direct impact on the specifications of the drive system.

Whereas the ferry currently serving the route has an engine with an output of 1,500 kilowatts (kW) or more than 2000 horsepower, the battery in the new vessel will have an output of 800 kW. In normal conditions, operating at a speed of 10 knots, battery power of 400 kW will suffice. The crucial feature of the new ferry is that it only takes 10 minutes to recharge the batteries.

In the two small villages linked by the ferry, however, the local grid is not equipped to deliver such a large amount of power in such a short space of time. To deal with this problem, batteries have been installed at each port. These serve to recharge the ferry’s battery during turnaround and are then themselves slowly recharged from the local grid. Read more here…

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee