Green City Ferries of Stockholm unveils zero emission ferry – high-speed electric hydrofoil catamaran powered by batteries and/or hydrogen fuel cells.
Green City (GCF) bills itself as a ‘system integrator’ and their new ferry, the Beluga24, demonstrates their capabilities perfectly in bringing together technologies from all over the world: Sweden, New Zealand, Italy, Japan and Canada.
Naval Architect Hans Thornell founded the company in 2013 to combine three things: his passion for the environment and commitment to reducing carbon emissions, his education as a Naval Architect at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, and his long experience as a management and supply chain consultant.
The company’s first venture, in 2014, was working with Swedish battery supplier Echandia to convert an existing 100-passenger commuter ferry to electric while matching existing speed and timetables. At the time there were only 3 electric ferries in service globally and the Movitz became the world’s first supercharged version. It is still operating in Stockholm and charges in 10 minutes.
Electric hydrofoil catamaran designed for city transit
The all new Beluga24, with its foil-assisted catamaran design and battery/fuel cell propulsion, was designed from the outset to be a solution for the new and future challenges faced by water-situated cities around the world.
Officials in these places are eager to use the water for public transport and commuting, but the boats need to live up to citizen demands for a lot of things: short travel time, personal comfort, frequent departures, and an increasing urgency not just for cleaner air and less smog, but also visible and meaningful ways to address carbon emissions and their role in climate change.
By integrating design, technologies and experts from literally all over the world, the Beluga24 ticks off all the boxes for urban commuters and governments.
Rapid transit, quick charging, comfortable, convenient
For short travel time, the Beluga24 turned to Nic de Waal and Teknicraft of New Zealand, whose foiling technology has been proven on numerous boats and ships. A foil is placed midship that lifts the ferry halfway out of the water at high speed, reducing the water resistance and enabling more speed from less energy. “We expect a consumption of 30 kWh per nautical mile at 30 knots, which is almost half of what a conventional catamaran consumes,” says company CEO Fredrik Thornell.
Mauro Sculli of Italy’s Studio Sculli, which has designed everything from 14′ daysailers to 100m superyachts, took care of the comfort aspect. The Beluga can carry up to 150 passengers (and 30 bicycles) and has a bright, warm interior with a small self-service cafeteria where commuters can grab a morning coffee, USB charging ports, Wi-Fi connectivity and flatscreen display monitors.
There is also has room for 30 bicycles, which are becoming an important part of the transportation mix for cities working to combat climate change.
Frequent departures and zero emissions? The Beluga has it covered. The power supply comes from Japanese lithium titanite oxide (LTO) batteries – the same chemistry used for the fast charging of the Movitz. Hydrogen fuel cells are sourced from Canada, and depending on the customer’s preference the ferry can be built to run off batteries, fuel cells, or both.
Greater efficiency = lower costs
With their experience on the Movitz and other public transportation projects, Green City knows there is another part of the equation that civic officials are looking for beyond passenger convenience and cleaner operation: costs.
For many PTAs (Public Transit Authorities) the most important service GCF provides is innovative financing that simplifies allocating or raising the funds needed, reduces costs, and cuts the time it takes to put new boats into service from years to months.
The final piece in the international expertise of the Beluga24 development is the headquarters of GCF itself: Sweden. The country has decades of experience building ships in carbon fibre and the first Beluga24s will initially be built in Sweden, going into the water for 2023. Green City Ferries has full exclusivity to build and sell this type of ship in carbon fibre globally.
CEO Thornell says “The Beluga24 is demonstrating a high-speed emission-free alternative to diesel ferries that also costs less to operate. It’s a solution highly attractive to transport administrations, shipping companies and most importantly for people!”
A future of fast, fossil-free ferries
GCF Marketing and Sales Manager Magnus Sörenson adds that “Interest in sustainable waterborne transport and demand for emission-free vessels is increasing exponentially. Analysts claim that the global market for emission-free vessels is expected to increase from USD 5.2 billion in 2019 to USD 15.6 billion by 2030, and passenger ferries are a large part of this.”
The proof of that interest is evident all around the world:
- Electric commuter ferries and riverboats are helping Bangkok control its dangerous smogs levels
- an all-electric high performance ferry is undergoing sea trials in New Zealand for launch in September
- India’s solar-powered commuter ferry Aditya has carried 1.35M passengers in the past 4 years
- the council of Trøndelag County in Norway sponsored a competition for high speed zero emission ferry concepts
- a consortium in Ireland led by Artemis Technologies has received a government innovation grant of £33 million (€36M, $US40M) to develop high speed ferries…
- and if you want to see more what the future has in store, check out the ‘In Development’ division of the ‘Electric Boats Designed for Paying Passengers in this year’s Gustave Trouvé Electric Boat Awards.