Greece’s first electric ferry announced

Greece’s first electric ferry has been commissioned  to service the 10km run across the Gulf of Corinth between the port of Aigio on the Peloponnese side and the village of Agios (Saint) Nikolaos on the mainland’s Dorida region.

This follows on the heels of last week’s announcement of the first electric ferry in China.

China's first electric ferryWith almost 14,000km /  8,500 miles of coastline, Greece has hundreds, if not thousands, of ferries large and small, fast and not so fast, for visitors and locals going from island to island and from mainland port to mainland port. But until now, it has not had an electric ferry. The aim of the new pilot program is to extend it to all of the country’s short ferry routes.

Read: Niagara Falls ferry going electric

Electric ferry project includes offshore hybrid power plant

The Agios-Nikolaos pilot is part of a much larger project that includes an offshore power plant to provide the electricity. The plant includes a hybrid power generating system that combines solar, wave and wind technologies.

Surplus power will be provided free of charge to residents of the two municipalities who are in financial distress or belong to vulnerable social groups.

The ferry aspect is a collaboration between the municipalities and DNV-GL, which is best known as an international classification and registering body for ships but also provides services like due diligence.

Responding to rising fuel prices and lower sulphur limits 

The electric ferry will be a conversion from an existing diesel ship, and the entire project, with power plant, is budgeted at 4M – 5M Euros (US $4.5 5.5M). The EU will provide 50% of the funding. The world’s largest electric ferry – also an EU project, was went into service  in Denmark this past August

All of the Greek ferry lines will be watching the pilot with great interest. Fuel prices have already been rising in Greece over the past two years and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) global sulphur cap  starts January 1, 2020. Estimates are the cost of lower sulphur fossil fuels could be as much as 20% higher with consumer ticket prices going up 7-10%.

Welcome to the electric ferry club!

Greece, of course is one of the world’s great maritime nations, but it has been slow to take up electric ferries, in large part because many of the routes in the country are long overnight journeys to the islands that tax today’s electric-only capabilities.

The technology is literally changing by the day, though, and 2019 has seen a number of important milestones in switching ferries from fossil fuels to battery electric or hybrid. The largest capacity batteries for an electric ship – 6,100 kWh – were installed on an arctic cruise ship and are twice the size on any other boat. 

Norway is definitely the leader in electric ferries, but the other Scandinavian countries are also making the switch, as well as Canada and the US. There is even an a solar powered ferry in India. Welcome aboard, Greece!

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