The past few weeks have seen electric ferry news pop up literally all over the world with new boats and services announced or being delivered in the Mediterranean, North Sea and Pacific Ocean!
Electric ferry news: Canada – Pacific Ocean
The electric hybrid ferries ordered by BC Ferries from Netherlands boatbuilder Damen in 2017 arrived in British Columbia last week and are due to go into the waters off Vancouver Island on January 30.
The ferries were brought to Canada by the carrier ‘Sun Rise‘ (left). To launch them it will partially submerge itself over the course of a few hours, allowing the smaller boats to be floated off the ‘mothership’ into the harbour of the city of Victoria.
These two boats mark the start of an ongoing electrification of ferry services on the west coast of North America. BC Ferries has ordered four more Damen ferries the same size, and Washington State Ferries (these are 2nd and 4th busiest systems in the world) will be converting three diesel ferries that hold a total of 7,500 people.
Electric ferry news: Norway and the North Sea
Norway is without a doubt the world leader in the electrification of ferries. People there have used ferries for years to travel across and around the countries many inlets and fjords, and the first all-electric car and passenger ferry – The Ampere – went into service ‘way back’ in 2015. There are electric cruise ferries taking visitors through sensitive and scenic fjords in the country’s arctic waters, as well as the Brim Explorer ecotour whale-watching boat.
The city of Oslo has now announced that it will be doing its share. Ruter, the public transport authority for the capital city, has ordered five new electric boats and said “The electrification of the island boats in 2021 will make Oslo a showcase for green shipping and take us one step closer to the goal of becoming the world’s first emission-free city”
The ‘island boats’ refers to the the routes of the ferries, which will take visitors to the popular Inner Oslofjord islands close to the city. About a million passengers a year travel to the islands each year to camp, swim, kayak and visit local attraction like the ruins of a 12th-century monastery and two cannon batteries dating back to 1808.
Electric ferry news: Malta and the Mediterranean
Malta will soon have ecofriendly ferries sailing from the main island of Malta out to Comino island and taking locals and tourists to the famous Blue Lagoon swimming and diving area. The hybrid vessels were designed by Maltese naval engineers to be larger and faster than the current fleet and will include Wifi, disabled seating and baggage stowage facilities.
Spokesman Mark Bajada of Comino Ferries, who will operate the service, said “These will be the first hybrid vessels to operate in Maltese waters and are designed using the latest technology. The vessels will operate in fully electric mode when in the vicinity of Comino, Marfa and Cirkewwa – meaning zero emissions and zero noise around the bay areas – and with reduced drag to minimize wake.”
Ferries are the ideal vessels to go electric
The electrification of boating is often compared to the electrification of cars and land transport, and ferries are a good example of how e-boats are following the trajectory of EVs.
Colin McKerracher of Bloomberg New Energy Finance often writes about the impact of commercial vehicles going electric and BNEF’s 2019 Outlook says “The electrification of the global bus fleet is already well underway with over 400,000 electric buses on the road. Commercial electric van and truck sales are set to accelerate in the 2020s.”
Ferries will most likely convert quickly for the same reasons as the buses. For one thing, they run over the same route all the time and stopping at the same terminals, so charging from shore is simplified. Secondly, the initial cost of moving to electric – whether it be a refit or a new vessel – is recovered relatively quickly because the boat owners no longer have to continually buy (and burn) the vast amounts of fuel they need to operate. So once the initial cost is recovered the long terms savings are enormous. This is particularly appealing to the government agencies that operate many ferries.
The examples above are what has been happening in electric ferry news in just the past few weeks. Electrification of ferries is going on all over the world – San Francisco, Thailand, New Zealand, China, Sweden…and the world’s biggest ever all-electric battery ferry went into service in Denmark in August »» Read about it here or click on the photo.
When it comes to what is happening now, and going to happen in the future for electric ferries, it seems apt to echo what was said almost a century ago (1927) about another technology in another field (‘talkies’ movies): You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, folks!’