World's first battery-powered ferry starts service in Norway

Emission-free ferry powered by Siemens technology and operated by Norled
World's first battery-powered ferry starts service in Norway

By Rebecca Gibson |

The world’s first battery-powered car and passenger ferry has started service in Norway.

Built by Norwegian shipbuilder Fjellstrand, the ferry is operated by Norled and sails on the 6km route between Lavik and Oppedal on the Sognefjord in Norway. The ferry can accommodate 360 passengers and 120 vehicles and makes 34 crossings per day, with each trip taking around 20 minutes.

“We are proud to operate the world’s first electric ferry,” said Sigvald Breivik, technical director of Norled. “Siemens has been a great partner in finding innovative and sustainable solutions for our environment.”

Norled’s 80m ferry is powered by two electric motors with an output of 450kW and Siemens’ BlueDrive PlusC electric propulsion system. This includes a lithium-ion battery and steering system, thruster control for the propellers, an energy management system and an integrated alarm system. The integrated automation systems control and monitor the machineries and auxiliaries on the ferry and are connected via Profibus to all other subsystems.

Siemens has also installed a 269kWh lithium-ion battery at the pier in Opedal and one in Lavik, which will supply electricity to the ferry while it is berthed at the ports. The battery will then slowly recoup this energy from the national, hydro-powered grid until the ship returns.

The ferry only uses 150kWh per route – the same as three days use of electricity in the average Norwegian household – and the onboard batteries are recharged directly from the national grid at night when the vessel is not in use. Each battery pack provides the same power of 1,600 standard car batteries.

While a traditional diesel ferry consumes at least one million litres of diesel a year and emits 570 tons of carbon dioxide and 15 metric tons of nitrogen oxides, the Norled ferry will consume around two million kWh of energy per year. The electrical propulsion system has enabled the operator to reduce fuel costs by up to 60%.

“We are both optimistic and excited about this technology and how it will help shape the future of environmentally friendly maritime technology,” said Mario Azar, CEO of the Siemens Business Unit Oil & Gas and Marine. “We were pleased to apply our expertise in this field including electric propulsion systems to such a worthwhile project.”

The Norled ferry is part of Norway’s plan to operate completely emission-free ferries along the country’s extensive coastline, with at least 50 other routes currently able to sustain battery-operated vessels.

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