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Published on June 13th, 2015 | by Cynthia Shahan


World’s First All-Electric Battery-Powered Ferry

June 13th, 2015 by  

A Norwegian emission-free ferry called the Ampere was granted the esteemed “Ship of the Year” award as the SMM trade show in September 2014. The ferry is reportedly the first all-electric battery-powered car and passenger ferry in the world. The battery-powered vessel, with a comfortable capacity of 120 cars and 360 passengers operating at about 10 knots, is apparently in service 365 days per year.

Emissions Free Ferry

The oil-burning, black smoke–producing ferry is passé. gCaptain approves of the choice: “Obviously, the Ampere design won and the vessel has been in operation since early 2015.”

Originating as a submission to a Norwegian Ministry of Transport competition, this innovative vessel won a 10-year license to operate the Lavik-Oppedal route beginning in 2015. The planet-friendly, water-friendly design of Ampere came out ahead of all other competitors.

“We are both optimistic and excited about this technology and how it will help shape the future of environmentally friendly maritime technology,” says Mario Azar, CEO of the Siemens Business Unit Oil & Gas and Marine. “We were pleased to apply our expertise in this field including electric propulsion systems to such a worthwhile project,” added Azar.

Siemens cites differences in the building process from many electric vehicles, saying the emission-free ferry was formed from the ground up. The ferry is 80 meters long and 20 meters wide. With a svelte catamaran hull, quite lightweight and made of aluminum, the vessel features an all-electric powertrain, with two electric motors with 450 kilowatts of output each. Steel is ordinarily used in shipbuilding. Thus, the ferry is just half as heavy as a conventional ferry — even with its 10-ton batteries and a capacity for 360 passengers and 120 vehicles. Doubling the lifetime of the hull, the aluminum hull also leaves behind the maintenance required of a steel hull.

Battery Powered Ferry

Siemens shares that the lovely Ampere is designed and built by Fjellstrand shipyard. Siemens provides the battery technology to this shipyard, which is set appropriately on the southwest coast of Norway. Norled owned the Ampere and named the design of the ferry for its holding capacity of 120. However, “ZeroCast 120″ design is most definitely named for its 100% emissions-free operations.

light-weight and slender catamaran hull

lithium-ion battery charging stations Pier


Siemens assessed that the power grid in the region was not well developed. Siemens and Norled chose to install three battery packs. Each pier has one lithium-ion battery as well as one on board the ferry. Thus, turnaround times are an opportunity for the ferry to recharge at the pier — recharging in just 10 minutes.

lithium-ion battery charging stations

Hydropower supplies the lithium-ion battery charging stations at the piers with electricity. The ferry’s use of 150 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per route equals about three days’ use of electricity in a typical Norwegian household. Check out the batteries on board (below) — the equivalent of 1,600 standard car batteries according to Siemens.

Der Strom in den Batterien stammt aus Wasserkraft. Jedes Batteriepaket entspricht der Leistung von 1600 Standardautobatterien. Der Ladeprozess am Pier nimmt jeweils nur zehn Minuten in Anspruch. The batteries are charged from hydro power. This battery pack onboard, like the ones on each pier, corresponds to the effect of 1600 standard car batteries. The charging at each peer takes only ten minutes.

Siemens adds that the energy management system (EMS) interface involves sub-controllers for gensets, thrusters, and remote controls to watch and optimize engine speed. A seamless performance of the vessel smoothly runs thanks to the entirely joint working of the ship’s genset, switchboard, propulsion, and thruster control systems.

On board the ferry, Siemens installed its electric propulsion system, BlueDrive PlusC. “It includes a battery and steering system, thruster control for the propellers, an energy management system, and an integrated alarm system. The integrated automation systems control and monitor the machinery and auxiliaries on the ferry and are connected via Profibus to all other subsystems.”

Enjoy the air as you and your car ferry takes you to another shore without the black smoke of a typical ferry.

Gas2 has also reported on a ferry converted to electric power. The Movitz was converted last year, at the Echandia Marine, a local startup. With that ferry, the battery pack also recharged in just 10 minutes, giving the Movitz enough fuel to make its hour-long journey with just a 10-minute layover. Chris DeMorro points out that the conversion is calculated to cut out 130 tons of CO2 and 1.5 tons of NOx emissions annually. DeMorro also notes that another benefit is found in operating costs. “Echandia estimates that its electric ferry cuts costs by 30%, giving ferry operators a tremendous incentive to carry out an electric conversion.”

Related Stories:

Electric & Hybrid Ship Technologies Moving Forward… In Norway, Of Course

US Marines Get New Wave Energy Device That Looks Like The Loch Ness Monster

World’s Longest Interconnector Provides UK With Norwegian Hydropower

Tesla Superchargers Could Deliver Half Charge in Just 5 Minutes

Images by Siemens © 
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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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