Electric propulsion is coming for virtually every mode of transportation, including maritime transportation. Ferries are a good place to start since they cover the same routes again and again. It makes it easy to plan for the range and charging solution of all-electric ferries.

Now Canada has got on board with the concept and ordered its first two new giant all-electric ferries.

Schottel and Damen Shipyards are partnering up to equip the first all-electric vessels to operate in Canada.

They are going to work on the two new ferries serving the Amherst Island and Wolfe Island in Ontario.

The conversion will include equipping the ships with four electric twin propellers, STP 260 FP from Schottel, each with an input power of up to 550 kW.

A battery pack system will be installed onboard to power the propellers and a diesel generator will serve as backup power.

They expect the vessels to have a similar capacity as the conventional ferries with speeds up to 12 knots, but it will also “reduce emissions by the equivalent of 7 million kg carbon dioxide per year.”

Delivery of the Amherst Island ferry, which has a length of 68 m, a width of 25 m and can accommodate up to 300 people and 42 cars, is expected in 2020. The Wolfe Island ferry, which is even bigger with a length of 98 m, a width of 25 m and can transport up to 399 passengers and 75 cars, is scheduled for delivery in 2021.

All-electric Ferries

The operators of the first all-electric ferry in Norway, the ‘Ampere’, reported some impressive statistics after operating the ship for over 2 years.

They claim that the all-electric ferry cuts emissions by 95% and costs by 80%.

At an event last year, they announced their findings and unsurprisingly, the potential cost savings are attracting a lot of orders for new all-electric ferries and for the conversion of existing diesel-powered ferries.

Not long after, Fjord1, a major Norwegian transport conglomerate which operates 75 ships, placed an important order with the Havyard Group to build a fleet of battery-electric ferries.

We have seen other routes planned to be electrified, like New York, which is getting its first electric ferry next year.

Electrek’s Take

I think this is a no-brainer. It makes so much sense to electrify ferries. They operate on relatively short and consistent routes, which makes it easy to plan for range and to install charging infrastructure at the docking locations.

If the results in Norway are true, it not only cuts emissions almost entirely, it also results in incredible cost savings.

We are seeing many engineering firms now offering conversions to electric and I think fleet operators should really consider it at this point.

Some shipyards are also working on new all-electric models, which will likely be the main choice for many fleet operators when it’s time to update their fleets in the coming years.

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