An EU-funded project has resulted in the world’s largest all-electricity ferry Ellen. Last month the ferry completed 10 months of trials and proves that battery-powered boats have several advantages compared to their diesel counterparts. Read more about the world’s largest e-ferry operating in Denmark.
When the electric car-ferry Ellen entered service in 2019, she was the largest electric ferry in the world. She operates the route between the islands of Ærø and Als in Southern Denmark. This ferry, without noise or smoke, is paving the way to concrete transformation of maritime traffic and can quickly pay off the investments of EUR 21.3 million in both financial and environmental savings.
Although the investment is 40% more expensive than a conventional vessel, operating costs are 75% lower. It’s expected that she will save the release of 2,000 tons of CO2 per year. At her home port Ærø she loads her passengers and recharges her batteries with the surplus from the island’s wind turbines, which produce 130% of the electricity needed there. High-performance chargers top up the battery between sailings, so passengers do not need to wait long to depart.
Ellen’s batteries were developed by Leclanché of Switzerland. They are split between two battery rooms below deck and have a capacity of 4.3 MWh, larger than any other electric vessel. She is one of the first such vessels to have no emergency generator. A charging arm on the shore ramp moves with the tide and allows battery recharging while loading.
The 750-ton and 60-meter long ferry Ellen makes five daily trips between Ærø and Als in the Baltic Sea. Ellen is powered by 4.3 megawatts of battery power and was built by Søby Værft A/S with sections fabricated in Szczecin in Poland in 2016. 22 sections were welded together and the hull was towed to Søby on Ærø for outfitting.
“There are two reasons why Ellen is so special,” says the E-ferry coordinator Trine Heinemann. “There is no oil on board to run anything on the ship, so she’s fully-electric. Secondly the 22 nautical miles trip is seven times what existing comparable ships have covered. And the longer distances you start covering, the most usable your technology becomes. And I think in Europe it’s about 80 % of the ferry transportation that can be covered in a 22 nautical miles range.”
Ellen can carry 30 vehicles and 200 passengers. She was designed to minimize weight. Her passenger areas are on the same level as the open car deck. She does not have ramps, instead using those on shore. The hull is steel but the bridge is made of aluminum. Deck furniture is made from recycled paper rather than wood, giving the ferry a total weight of 650 tons.
“Actually, electric motors are more powerful because we have the full torque from the bottom so that’s quite nice. You can almost drive it like a speed boat!” says captain Thomas Larsen and adds that the crew quickly became familiar with the new tool.
“Perhaps most important of all for the dissemination of e-technology, pure electricity is simply the cheapest solution now,” according to a statement from the Ellen project team.
Feature image (on top) Photo © Danfoss
World’s Largest E-Ferry Operating in Denmark, written by Tor Kjolberg