VIDEO: Fully-electric ferry is first of its kind in southern hemisphere

Written by Nick Blenkey
Fully-electric ferry on water

Fully-electric ferry Ika Rere recently completed its inaugural round trip [Image: © Stellar Studio]

The first fully-electric, high-speed passenger ferry in the southern hemisphere recently made its debut in Wellington, New Zealand.

The 19 meter long ferry, the Ika Rere, can carry up to 132 passengers on routes across Wellington Harbor at an operational speed of 20 knots. It has been designed and built to complete one return run of 25 kilometers before charging dockside at a rate of 1 megawatt for 15 minutes while passengers disembark and board.

The ferry will be charged from a 300-kilowatt charger at its overnight berth during its first year of operation. It is anticipated that the Ika Rere will save approximately 640 tons of CO2 annually compared to a similar-sized diesel alternative.

The vessel will be operate on 100% renewable electricity supplied by Meridian Energy.

Constructed by the Wellington Electric Boat Building Company, the carbon fiber hulled Ika Rere is owned by East West Ferries and is at the final stage of gaining its survey certificate from Maritime New Zealand. It will then enter East by West’s commissioning process, in which crews are trained and the boat tested on wharves and routes, while periodically being used on some public sailings.


Leading New Zealand electrical company McKay acted as the project’s lead electrical designer and system integrator, choosing a Danfoss’ Editron drivetrain system to power the ferry. The system consists of two propulsion motors, two grid solutions for the AC network and six DC/DC converters connected to the vessel’s batteries. All of these components operate via a DC cabinet and are controlled via an electronic control system.

“As companies, cities and countries around the world continue to set CO2 reduction targets, the demand for zero-emission vessels and machines continues to grow,” said Erno Tenhunen, marine director of Danfoss’ Editron division. “Our Editron marine system provides outstanding efficiencies within a power range of up to six megawatts. It is also compact and lightweight, enabling space and weight savings and increasing design freedom. These savings ultimately benefit passengers, as operators can provide a greater level of comfort.”

“While Ika Rere has cost more than an equivalent-sized diesel boat, we will make savings back over time thanks to its cheaper running costs,” said Jeremy Ward, managing director of East by West Ferries. “The ferry’s electric motors, provided by Danfoss’ Editron division, require less maintenance than traditional diesel versions. The cost of charging the vessel’s batteries is also significantly less than filling it up with diesel.”

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