Thanks to a shipping company from Hamburg, electric ferries could soon connect lonely islands in the baltic sea

As reported by German newspaper Die Welt, electric ferries could soon commute in the baltic sea. The shipping company Scandlines, located at the port of Hamburg, already prepares for the upcoming electric ferry business.

Engineers in shipbuilding are confronted with the same problems as the manufacturers of passenger cars, trucks or buses: how can they reduce the charging times for the batteries? And how will they increase their reliability and range, so that electric drives are as competitive as possible? In the port of Hamburg, Germany’s largest seaport, the approaches to electrification are still modest, although maritime transport contributes significantly to poor air quality.

Sven Ropers, manager of the Siemens maritime business in Hamburg, argues that ferries will be the pioneers in electric technology in shipping. Right now, there are only hybrid ferries on the market, which combine a diesel engine with the electric power of around 230 truck batteries. But: Even those 230 battery packs aren’t strong enough yet. In the Die Welt article, the captain of a hybrid ferry explains that they normally drive 23 knots top speed, which is about 43 kilometers per hour (approx. 27 miles per hour). With the electric motors alone, they could only reach speeds of 16.5 knots, and only for about half an hour. Then, the diesel engine kicks in. For the dedicated ferry route from Rostock to Gedser that’s not nearly enough energy.

Nevertheless, shorter trips with a length of around 20 kilometers (approx. 12,5 miles) are well suited for electric ferries. According to the Die Welt article, the ferry company Scandlines plans to establish a connection between Puttgarden on the island Fehmarn and Rødby on the island Lolland as a first pilot test soon.

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