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First battery-powered ferry will be recharged during turn-arounds

30 January, 2013

The world’s first battery-powered car ferry is due to enter service in Norway in 2015, carrying up to 120 cars and 360 passengers across the Sognefjord.

The 80m-long vessel will replace an existing diesel-powered vessel that uses around 1m litres of fuel per year and emits 2,680 tonnes of CO2 and 37 tonnes of nitrogen oxides.

The new catamaran ferry, with twin aluminium hulls, will weigh about half as much as a conventional vessel. It will be powered by a 10-tonne lithium-ion battery with a peak output of 800kW, compared to the 1.5MW of the current diesel engine. Normally, the new ferry will need about 400kW to propel it at 10 knots.

The battery, which will power two motor-driven screws, will be recharged during the ten-minute turn-around at either end of its route between Lavik and Oppendal. Because the local grid will not be able to deliver enough power in such a short time, on-shore batteries in each port will be used to recharge the ferry batteries and will themselves be charged slowly from the local mains supply. Solar panels on-board the ferry will help to top up the battery.

The new ferry is being built by the Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand, with Siemens supplying the electrical systems. Similar battery-powered vessels could replace hundreds of ferries in Norway with crossing times of up to 30 minutes.

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