We have already seen ships going all-electric, but they are mainly ferries operating over short distances. Now we are seeing batteries making their way into cruise ships as the first plug-in hybrid ship sails for the Arctic.

All-electric Ships

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

Two big new all-electric ferries are also coming to Canada.

Plug-in Hybrid Cruise Ship

What all those ships have in common is that they all operate on relatively short routes.

Batteries still need to improve in order for ships to be able to travel long distances.

However, the industry is starting to look at hybrid systems to power boats much like plug-in hybrid cars.

The hybrid expedition cruise ship, the Roald Amundsen, which can carry 500 passengers, is set to head out from northern Norway this week on its maiden voyage to the Arctic.

Cruise operator Hurtigruten is in charge of the expedition.

Hurtigruten Chief Executive Daniel Skjeldam told Reuters that the ship mostly runs on marine gasoil, but it is also equipped with a battery pack capable of running the ship on electric-only for 45 to 60 minutes.

The battery can be charged externally, but it can charge from excess energy from the engines.

Skjeldam said:

“It’s designed to take excessive energy from the engines and put into the battery when the ship doesn’t need it, and put it back into the engine when the ship needs it — it is a way of reducing emissions significantly without having charging stations available,”

They expect the battery packs to reduce fuel consumption and save about 20% in carbon dioxide emissions.

The executive added:

“We expect batteries to be an important part of shipping in the years to come, but of course we don’t expect our ships to be able to operate only on batteries, because the ship can sail up to 18-20 days in areas where there are no charging points,”

The capability to run on electric-only could also be useful since Norway is making its fjords ‘the world’s first zero emission zone at sea’.

Electrek’s Take

At Electrek, we think every mode of transportation is going all-electric as battery technology is improving.

I think this is the first step for long-distance cruise ships.

Those ships can be extremely polluting and electrifying them could be really beneficial.

With more efficient ships running on batteries and solar, we could greatly reduce direct pollution in the ocean and air pollution in general.

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