E-Ferry – Fully electric into a sustainable future?

The transport sector accounts for almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissionsin Europe and is the only sector in which emissions have even increased in recent years(European Environment Agency 2021). This development endangers the EU Green Deal and the goal of climate neutrality. A climate-neutral transport sector may sound like a utopia at first, but the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is still setting it as a goal. With the decision of April 2018, the 174 IMOmember states have committed themselvesto at least halving the CO2 emissions of ships by 2050 compared to 2008 (IMO 2018). This article presents the exciting Horizon 2020 project “E-Ferry” and explains how an all-electric ferry gives hope to achieve the ambitious UN goals in the transport sector. 

In fact, in 2015, the first all-electric ferry called "Ampere" sailed on the Sognefjord between Lavik and Oppedal in Norway. To this day, it coversthe distance of 6 km 34 times a day. Yet even the Ampere is only half as heavy as a conventional car ferry and causes only 5 percent of CO2 emissions in comparison (Infineon Technologies AG 2021). The E-Ferry project delivered similar exciting results: The passenger and carferry has been in operation in Denmark since August 2019 on the route Søby-Fynshav (at the operator AEROE-Ferries) and has already covered the distance of 22 nautical miles – about 40 km – 1000 times in the first 10 months of probationary period.  

The project

The project, which was launched in June 2015, was intended to design, build and demonstrate a ferry that is fully electric, i.e., "green", and thus emits neither pollutants nor CO2. This should promote energy-efficient, greenhouse gas and air pollution-free transport on water for island communities, coastal areas and inland waterways in Europe and beyond. The specifically formulated goal was to design an emission-free ferry of medium size for passengers and cars, trucks and Cargo1 in large-scale operation, which can operate at greater distances than before, namely more than five nautical miles.  Given this goal, the project outcome is more than encouraging, as the E-Ferry surpasses previous capabilities of similar efforts aimed at medium-range connections. 

The E-Ferry