Hamburg’s 3 new plug-in hybrid ferries will be hydrogen fuel cell ready

Written by Nick Blenkey
plug-in hybrid ferry

The plug-in hybrid vessels vessels will be designed to ensure safe operation in Hamburg’s city center.

Three plug-in hybrid ferries on order for Hamburg ferry operator HADAG will be prepared for later integration of hydrogen fuel cells, allowing for future zero-emissions operation. On order at the SET (Schiffbau- u. Entwicklungsgesellschaft Tangermünd) shipyard in Tangermünd, Germany, they will feature drivetrain systems from Danfoss Power Solutions’ Editron division.

Hamburg’s passenger ferry service is integral to its public transportation offering. With eight routes stopping at 20 different piers, the ferries are used by approximately 9 million passengers annually. The city is looking to decarbonize its transportation sector, which was responsible for 29% of its total emissions in 2018. Hamburg is part of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and has set a goal of achieving a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030, with a minimum reduction of 95% by 2050.

“These vessels will be designed to ensure safe operation in Hamburg’s city center, which includes making multiple stops every hour and navigating the tidal conditions of the Elbe River,” said Martin Lobmeyer, technical director at HADAG. “They will also efficiently utilize the hybrid-electric propulsion technology while driving at full speed and berthing throughout the whole harbor area.”

All three vessels will feature serial hybrid propulsion systems, including drivetrains designed and manufactured by Danfoss’ Editron division. The drivetrain incorporates shore connection, battery storage, and propulsion and AC network feeding power modules, all connected by a compact DC link with unique and patented selectivity for high system safety.

Plug-in hybrid ferry
Vessels are being built to a concept design by naValue
Plug-in hybrid ferry

Editron’s synchronous reluctance assisted permanent magnet generator is paired with a Scania Diesel engine to create a variable speed genset, providing energy for charging batteries or as a backup for propulsion. Two electric eVSP9 Voith Schneider thrusters will deliver highly efficient thrust combined with high maneuverability.

The ferries are being built to a concept design by Flensburg naval architect firm naValue, a specialist in ferry design and consultancy.

The first plug-in hybrid ferry, which will be capable of carrying up to 250 passengers, is due to be delivered to HADAG in 2024, with the other two vessels expected to follow later the same year. Additionally, HADAG has an option to order a further three ferries featuring the fuel cell technology, which could also potentially be retrofitted on the city’s existing passenger ferry fleet.


“Our drivetrain is one of the most compact and lightweight solutions on today’s market, easily fitting into a vessel’s machinery room and enabling more space for passengers,” said Sascha Nitz, marine sales manager in Danfoss’ Editron division. “The high efficiency of our system also optimizes battery capacity on board to fit the desired operational profile. I want to thank SET for putting its trust in us to power these hybrid vessels, which will play a crucial role in Hamburg’s public transport offering.”

“We’re pleased that we were ultimately able to prevail against our competitors in an extremely intensive tendering and awarding process and thank HADAG for the assignment and the trust it placed in us,” added Olaf Deter, managing director of SET. “We’re aware of the responsibility and duty required to implement such a demanding project and are pleased to be able to contribute to the innovative future design of the Port of Hamburg.”

plug-in nhubrid ferry
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