Ellen paves the seaway for electric ferries

Monday, June 8, 2020
The E-ferry Ellen from above with cars on deck
Watch the video about the E-Ferry Ellen

New report concludes that the E-ferry powered by Danfoss Editron is a climate friendly and valid commercial alternative to conventional counterparts. Payback time down to 4 years.

Last year and with support from the EU, the world’s most powerful E-ferry was launched in Denmark, with a powerful Danfoss Editron system running it.

"Ellen is an excellent example of the future for electric transport: cleaner, greener and more efficient. It is a key project for the EU and demonstrates the potential for electric ferries to end users and the industry itself,” Kimmo Rauma, Vice President of Danfoss Editron, said.

And a new report from June 1st supports his statement.

The evaluation concludes that the economic grounds for electrification are there, i.e. that the E-ferry prototype is a valid commercial alternative from a purely economic aspect. Thus, while E-ferries in general, and the E-ferry prototype in particular, have higher construction costs than their conventional counterparts, the operational costs, especially those dedicated to energy/fuel, are significantly lower for fully electric vessels. So that the higher investments costs are in fact paid out after 5-8 years of operation, compared to the best available technology for diesel-electric propulsion and when taking into account the potential necessity of replacing the battery pack twice over the vessel’s total lifetime.

Captain Søren Svendsen
"It is like changing from an old Volvo Amazon to a Tesla", says Søren Svendsen, captain in the ship

Break even in 4 years

The report concludes that a future fully electric E-ferry would in fact break even when compared to the diesel-electric best alternative within 4 years of operation, after which the operational savings of the E-ferry would apply year for year. In total, lifetime investment, or cost-over-total-lifetime has thus, for instance, been estimated at 52 million Euro for best diesel-electric alternative, 50 million Euro for the E-Ferry prototype and 46 million Euro for the E-Ferry series.

Compared to the best technological alternative, the E-ferry saves the environment 2,520 tons of CO2, and close to 4,000 tons of CO2 compared to an older, existing ferry of similar type. These savings are contingent on the E-Ferry using green electricity.

The environmental benefits are also highly rated by the E-ferry prototype’s passengers, who overall report that they are either ”extremely satisfied” or ”very satisfied” with the prototype in operation. Alongside a high appreciation of the environmental friendliness of the E-ferry prototype, passengers also rate much more silent operation and noise level highly, just as safety, comfort and travel time (reduced by more than 20%) is either ”extremely satisfying” or ”very satisfying”.

Potentially 900 ferries in Europe alone can be replaced by the same type of E-ferry as Ellen.

Danfoss logo in engine room

Danfoss Editron partner in the E-ferry project

The E-ferry research project addresses the urgent need for reducing European CO2 emissions and air pollution from waterborne transportation.

The E-ferry prototype has been sailing as an ordinary car- and passenger ferry, including a trial period, for 10 months and a total of approximately 1000 return trips, each of 22 nautical miles, between Søby, Ærø and Fynshav, Als.