First 100% electric car ferry operating in Norway

Signal of change / First 100% electric car ferry operating in Norway

By Michael Zahn / 04 Aug 2015

The world’s first electrically powered car and passenger ferry, named Ampere, started service in Norway earlier this year.

The ferry, operated by Norled, makes 34 fjord-crossings a day, powered by two electric motors. Each motor is powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are recharged whilst cars and passengers board the ferry at each pier. The ferry only uses 150kWh per route, which corresponds to three days use of electricity of a standard Norwegian household. Conventional ferries in comparison, use approximately one million litres of diesel fuel, and cost up to 60% more to operate. They also emit 2,680 tons of carbon dioxide and 37 tons of nitrogen oxide over the same distance each year.

The electric motors are low-noise and emission-free, running on electricity generated by local hydroelectric plants. The ferry’s hull also incorporates new forms of design to reduce embedded carbon and increase energy efficiency.  The hull is made exclusively of aluminium rather than steel, which reduces its weight by half. The aluminium is also resistant to rust, and therefore requires less maintenance and reduced operating costs. This technology has been jointly developed by Siemens and the Norwegian shipyard, Fjellstrand.

Additional material by Juliette Aplin

Image credit: Siemens © / reprinted from Siemens’ Pictures of the Future online magazine

So what?

The project emerged from a competition arranged by Norway’s Ministry of Transport and Communications five years ago to develop the most environmentally friendly ferry. The winner was granted a concession to operate the ferry link between Lavik and Oppedal in the Sognefjord. The Ministry asked for ferries that would disturb the environment as little as possible with regard to noise level and pollution. This shows the role government can play in supporting industry to raise the bar and promoting the development of sustainable innovations.

It is hoped that the ferry will show new ways forward for the industry. As Mario Azar, CEO of the Siemens Business Unit Oil & Gas and Marine, contends, “we are both optimistic and excited about this technology and how it will help shape the future of environmentally friendly maritime technology”.

Norway alone has at least 50 other coastal routes where the emission-free battery system could be deployed. Odd Moen, responsible for ship solution sales at Siemens Norway, estimates that batteries “will become considerably more efficient and less expensive over the next five years”.


Siemens (May 19, 2015)  Press Release: First electric car ferry in the world in operation in Norway now
Siemens (May 19, 2015) Setting a course for carbon-free shipping

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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