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Boats Ellen electric ferry

Published on November 28th, 2019 | by Cynthia Shahan


Ellen, One of the World’s Largest Electric Ferries, Has Battery Equivalent To 50 Tesla Model S Batteries

November 28th, 2019 by  

Ellen electric ferry

Zero-emissions adaptation is everything in our changing world. Land, sea, and air traffic all need to switch to zero emissions. A favorable example of maritime adaptation comes to us from euronews.com, which invites us to meet Ellen. Ellen means “Sun Ray,” or some say “Bright One.” Although, Ellen is powered by wind, not solar.

Ellen is the most powerful 100% electric ferry in the world. She can charge at up to 4.4 MW, and battery size is 4.3 MWh. That is equivalent to ~50 Tesla Model S batteries. Or, alternatively, that is equivalent to 10 full grown African Elephants in weight.

Euronews notes that ferries are the largest polluters on the island. The islanders co-financed Ellen with the European Union. The ferry is projected to save 2,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year. Cyril Fourneris & Myriam Copier report that Ellen has been connecting two Danish islands.

Ellen’s home is the Danish island of Ærø. She replenishes her power as she recharges her batteries. After which she loads her passengers on the 750-ton ship for a trip to a neighboring island. Ellen makes her carbon-neutral voyage 5 times a day. The all-electric ferry is capable of carrying roughly 30 vehicles and 200 passengers.

The islanders have been working quickly to be on the forefront of sustainable change. Ellen is not the first electric ferry. E-ferry project coordinator Trine Heinemann, however, explains that Ellen is special:

“Firstly, we’re fully-electric, so there is no oil on board to run anything on the ship. And secondly, it’s the distance that we cover, which 22 nautical miles. That’s seven times what existing 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.”

No need to say: Yes, but how is the battery getting charged? Ellen’s recharging energy comes from the surplus of wind turbines on Ærø, which produce 130% of the electricity needed on the island.

Under Ellen’s hull, there are four quiet engines and 56 tons of lithium-ion batteries. Like completely electric cars, there is no backup oil-based generator. Euronews describe the ferry further:

“We reserve at all-time a certain amount of energy in each battery room,” says Heinemann. “So if you lose a battery room or have to shut it down for some reason, there will always be enough energy left on the other room to sail back to harbor or do all the emergency procedures that could be involved in an emergency at sea.”

Euronews quotes Captain Thomas Larsen talking about one of the electric ferry’s top benefits, aside from the peace & quiet as well as the zero emission: “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!”

There is also the Ampere (formerly ZeroCat). “A groundbreaking ferry constructed for Norled by the Norwegian Shipyard Fjellstrand in Omastrand in collaboration with Siemens and Norled.” It was the world’s first electric-powered car ferry and generates zero emissions and minimum sound. (The ferry was delivered in October 2014 and commercial operations began in May 2015.) The Northern Europeans lead, again in this case.

Featured image: Ellen, 100% emissions-free electric ferry, via European Commission


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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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