Siemens has collaborated with Fjellstrand, the Norwegian shipyard, to develop what is the very first electric car ferry in the world. The vessel which is 80 meters long, can carry up to 360 passengers and 120 cars.
It is scheduled to begin ferrying from 2015, from Lavik to Oppendal, through the Sognefjord. The batteries of the ferry which would take just 10 minutes to recharge, will then be recharged during breaks between crossings.
Presently, the ship that plies this route averages a million liters of diesel each year, emitting nearly 600 metric tons CO2 and 15 metric tons worth of nitrogen oxides. A product of a competition organised by the Ministry of Transport of Norway, the electric car ferry was submitted by shipping company Norled, which has been given the license to use the route till 2025 for winning.
The design of the ferry takes into account that it will be electrically-powered. The vessel is a catamaran and has two thin hulls meaning that there will be reduced resistance in the water compared to a traditional vessel. The hulls are also made with aluminum, and not the conventional steel, with electric motors also replaced the usual diesel engine.
Powering these motors is a 10-metric-ton battery which still makes the new ferry weigh about 50% lighter than traditional vessels. The more lightweight vessel therefore requires an output of only 800 kW, in contrast with the 1,500 kW used by the engines of conventional ferries. Still, a 400 kW battery can power the vessel in normal conditions going at 10 knots speed.
Crucially, the battery takes just 10 minutes to recharge. Although power grid of the villages the ferry links do not have sufficient power to recharge the battery in such a short time, a workaround has been found, by installing batteries at each of the ports. These then recharge the battery of the ferry, and are afterwards slowly recharged by the local grid.
With so many ferries plying the route between mainland Norway and its surrounding islands, journeys of 30 minutes or less can be successfully powered by electrical means using the latest batteries and recharging technologies.