Both local commuters and visitors to Capbreton in France love the all-electric passenger ferry the popular holiday town put into service in July 2019.
Jean-Claude Olivier of the town’s port facility says “The new boat is a popular attraction. Our passengers love the experience of gliding silently and smoothly through the harbour under electric power”
Designed by local naval architect Loys Leclerq and built by the large industrial conglomerate Idra Navacco, the 10 metre/ 30 ft boat – named e-Boucarot – is made of aluminum to be compatible with the ecological aspects of an electric boat.
All-electric passenger ferry also recyclable
“An important goal for us when designing the new eco-friendly boat was to be respectful of the environment,” said Loys Leclercq, naval architect for the new boat. “Unlike fibreglass, the aluminium hull is fully recyclable when the ferry comes to the end of its life, and the catamaran hull form improves efficiency by reducing water resistance.”
e-Boucarot is powered by an integrated system developed by Torqeedo that employs twin 10kW electric outboards. The power pack for the motors consists of four 48-5000 Li-ion batteries (two per motor), each 48V with 5kWh capacity. That’s enough to keep the 35 passenger ferry cruising at 3 knots in the harbour, for up to 20 hours between charges. Leclerq adds: “With the Torqeedo powerplant, we’ve reduced air and water pollution – as well as noise levels – to zero.”
Electric ferries being introduced wordwide
Capbreton is joining both large cities and small towns around the world in embracing electric ferries for transport of commuters, tourists, passengers alone and passengers with vehicles:
- INDIA: In Kochi, on the Arabian Sea, the Aditya solar ferry takes 75 commuters at a time, 22 times per day, and operates on $US 2.60 a day
- CANADA/US: The world’s second and fourth busiest ferry systems, in Seattle and Vancouver – with ferries carrying as many as 2,500 people – are making the switch to electric/hybrid.
- GREECE: The country’s first electric ferry has been commissioned to serve the 10km run across the Gulf of Corinth.
- DENMARK: The world’s largest all-electric passenger ferry completes its maiden voyage.
- CHINA: The city of Wuhan, which is unfortunately making the news in February 2020 because of the Coronavirus, made happier news back in November when it announced the launch of the country’s first electric ferry.
“In cities around the world, we see a movement to replace older fuel-burning boats with modern electric boats on urban waterways,” said Dr Christoph Ballin, co-founder and CEO of Torqeedo. “Not only does it help reduce pollution, but passengers also enjoy their on-water experience with no noise or smelly exhaust fumes, and it saves money for operators in terms of fuel and maintenance costs.”
Electric ferries make environmental, financial sense
The adoption of electric ferries, both big and small, is one of the things that can make a big difference in the amount of not only carbon dioxide, but other noxious fumes that are dumped into our atmosphere by diesel motors.
There are hundreds of thousands of ferries large and small operating in the world, and because they service the same route going back and forth over and over again, they are ideal to be quickly recharged at one or both landing spots.
Moreover, putting the environment question to the side for a moment, there is a very attractive financial equation that works for ferries. While an initial outlay is required to either purchase a new ferry or retrofit an existing vessel, the savings in fuel quickly pay for the capital investment.
For instance, in the case of the Seattle/Vancouver ferries, the Washington State Department of Transportation says the huge Seattle ferries together burn through 4.7 Million gallons of diesel each year: almost 18 Million litres. At $US2.00 per litre (the price the department paid in 2018), that is $US 9M that is saved every single year. Maintenance costs are also reduced with an electric system, so ferries can quickly recover their investment.
If the adoption of electric buses is any guide, we can expect to see more and more ferries switching to electric in the months ahead.