World’s first battery-powered ferry enters service

The world’s first electric car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. Its name is MF Ampere.

The ferry’s owner Norled has started operating the electric vessel between Lavik and Oppedal. The fully electric ferry travels six kilometres across the fjord 34 times a day, and each trip takes around 20 minutes.

The ferry, is 80 meters long and 20 meters wide. It is driven by two electric motors, each with an output of 450 kilowatts. It is made exclusively of light aluminium, which makes it only half as heavy as a conventional ferry. This is despite its ten ton batteries and a capacity for 360 passengers and 120 vehicles.

Built in conjunction with shipbuilder Fjellstrand, Siemens installed the complete electric propulsion system and put up charging stations with lithium-ion batteries. The batteries are charged from hydro power. With the switch to battery, Norled is reducing the cost of fuel by about 60 percent, says Siemens.

The ferry is powered by three batteries. One lithium-ion battery is aboard the ferry, with one at each pier to serve as a buffer. The 260-kWh-units supply electricity to the ferry while it is at anchor. Afterward, the battery slowly recoups all of this energy from the grid until the ship comes back again to drop off passengers and then recharge. The ship’s on board batteries are recharged directly from the grid at night when the ferry is not being used.

The Norled ferry will use around two million kWh per year, whereas a traditional diesel ferry burns at least one million liters of diesel a year, while emitting 570 tons of carbon dioxide and 15 metric tons of nitrogen oxides, according to Siemens.

On board the ferry, Siemens installed its electric propulsion system BlueDrive PlusC, which includes a battery and steering system, thruster control for the propellers, an energy management system and an integrated alarm system.

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