EU-funded project to launch electric drive train ferry service

EU-funded project explores electric drive train ferry service
© Godehard Ruppert

A Horizon 2020-funded project named E-Ferry will launch an electric drive train ferry service this summer, connecting a Danish island to the mainland.

E-Ferry launched in 2015, and received €15m in funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme, to develop an electric drive train ferry service which could connect the island of Ærø to the Danish mainland. Depending on the route used, this journey is around ten nautical miles long, more than twice the distances currently seen by electric ferries.

The project’s first electric ferry is set to launch this summer, and takes advantage of advances in the development of electric batteries. The ferry can travel 22 miles without needing to be topped up, and will initially make seven trips per day. It will charge for around 20 minutes between journeys as the ferry is loaded with cars.

The ferry also utilises slow charging overnight, which allows it to reach full capacity before it re-enters service the next morning.

What have the project’s stakeholders said?

Dr Trine Heinemann, who is based on Ærø and is co-ordinator for the project, told Horizon: The EU Research and Innovation Magazine that decarbonising the ferry was an important contribution to combating climate change for the island to make. She said: “[The island’s only] connection to the mainland is passenger ferry, so I think there’s a local interest in trying to reduce emissions from that.”

The development of an electric drive train ferry service comes at a vital time for efforts to decarbonise the maritime sector in Europe, and around the world.

How will the project impact the maritime sector?

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) member states recently voted to approve a new greenhouse gas emissions strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the shipping sector, with a view to achieving zero emissions by 2050.

Further, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report published last month explored strategies for reducing CO2 emissions in shipping in light of the expected contents of the IMO’s proposal, which had not yet been agreed. It found that strong policy support and innovation could facilitate the introduction of zero-carbon shipping as soon as 2035.

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