VIDEO: Plugging in Finland’s first electric ferry

Finland's first all-electric ferry Elektra Finland's first all-electric ferry Elektra

NOVEMBER 20, 2017—On a crisp, breezy morning last week, the 98m vehicle ferry Elektra pulled away from the landing at Parainen after loading cars and two tractor trailers, including one hauling a load of timber, for its 15-minute crossing to Nauvo, Finland. There were two things that were noticeable immediately about the bright yellow ferry: It emitted no fumes nor any engine noise. That’s because the Elektra is Finland’s first newbuild all-electric ferry.

Built by CRIST in Poland, the Elektra began operating this past summer on 1.6 km route across the Finnish Archipelago. The ferry provides a glimpse of the future for state-owned operator FinFerries, which carries 4 million vehicles and 10 million passengers on its 40-plus routes operating around the country.

The Elektra is part of a growing fleet of green electric ferries that are built on Siemens technology. It joins the Ampere, the world’s first all-electric ferry that went into service with Siemens technology in Norway in 2015. Ampere served as a model for Elektra.

“The Elektra is part of a fleet now numbering four fully electrically propelled ferries run by the shipping company FinFerries which are equipped with our BlueDrive Plus C propulsion concept,” says Odd Moen, Head of Marine & Shipbuilding at Siemens Norway. “This encompasses a power storage system, a warning and observation system and variable-speed propulsion technology for the propellers.”

The 525 dwt Elektra has an overall length of 97.98m, beam of 15.2m and draft of 3.55m, with five lanes to accommodate up to 90 cars. The concept design for the Elektra was performed by Deltamarin, Turku, Finland.

While the Elektra can operate in three propulsion modes: all electric, hybrid and diesel-electric, it has only operated in its all-electric mode. The diesel-generators, composed of four Scania diesels and 50 Hz/690 V Stamford generators, will come into play if the ferry needs to make headway through ice conditions this winter.

Instead of bunkering on marine diesel oil, it gets a quick 5-minute charge at each end of its crossing from Cavotec automated mooring and charging stations. A quick plug in at the dock keeps the ferry’s 1MWh battery cluster charged at an optimum level—about 75%.

The Elektra even has a bank of solar panels, although admittedly, there more to demonstrate its green pedigree than for much practical use.

“Battery-powered ferries are vital to the achievement of sustainable, efficient and reliable shipping,” says FinFerries CEO Mats Rosin. “We’re proud to have accomplished something of a pioneering achievement with ferries of our electric fleet thanks to Siemens, and we’re excited about the possibilities afforded by these green technologies.”

Based on that pioneering spirit and groundbreaking technologies, Elektra was named one of Marine Log’s Best Ships of 2017. You can read more about her in the upcoming December issue of Marine Log.

Föri Finland's first electric ferry
And, as one astute reader, Mike Watters of Life Size Media, pointed out, the Elektra is technically not the first all-electric ferry in Finland. That title belongs to the historic ferry Föri, which was converted to electric propulsion this past spring. The ferry was originally fitted with wood-burning steam engines when she went into service in 1904. In 1955 the steam engines were replaced by diesel engines. The ferry is now fitted with a Visedo zero emission drivetrain. You can read more here.

 

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