Scandinavian and Baltic operators seem to be leading the way in reducing ferry reliance on fossil fuels.
The Oresund crossing Sweden-Denmark mainstays Tycho Brahe and Aurora are the latest and two of the largest ferries anywhere to be adapted to solely battery power. The former HH ferry operation was recently given the new name of ‘ForSea’ which seems to have the dual drawback of being rather confusing as well as not very memorable.
Of their five ships on their core Elsinore-Helsingborg route, two are of the chequered North East – Sunderland shipbuilders order Mercandia IV and VIII though they seem to be lasting well enough in spite of their inelegant looks. But the ForSea flagships and route mainstays Tycho Brahe and Aurora now proudly sport a major conversion to battery power. Their batteries have an expected lifetime of five years and in total there are 640 of them in each vessel, each weighing 90kg. This increased the total vessel weight by 280 tons. Because of predicted fast evolution in the development of battery power technology, it is expected the lifetime and power of the batteries to improve rapidly.
Using industrial robotics and wireless communications to optimise connection times, charging takes place every time the ferries berth. On the Danish side, charging takes 6 minutes, and on the Swedish side, 9 minutes, giving plenty enough power for the crossing. ForSea were granted EUR 12 million from INEA, the European Union’s executive agency for innovation and network. The budget for the total conversion project being EUR 30 million.
The Stockholm Government’s aim is to be greenhouse gas emissions neutral by 2045, ForSea is also sourcing the power for the batteries from renewable energy sources only from wind or water power and so is totally green. The transformation per ship took about eight weeks and the output of some 28,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year has been prevented having a positive impact on the air quality in both cities on the crossing. During 2019, their remaining vessels will be adapted where appropriate.
Crossing times have not changed, but the response from electric power is more immediate than diesel so when the offi cer on the bridge is manoeuvring, the helm will get the power much more quickly than before. The Tycho Brahe and Aurora entered service last November and are currently the world’s largest emissions free ferries operating on a high-intensity route, according to ForSea.