Fully electric E-ferry Ellen now sails five return trips in one shift in Denmark, marking a significant milestone for the project
The goal for the EU Horizon 2020-supported E-ferry project has been to sail at least five return trips during a single shift. Since the beginning of March, Ellen has sailed five daily return trips between the two Danish islands Ærø and Als, and “thus it has proven that its speed and quick charging capability enables it to replace traditional diesel ferries, even on busy routes with a fast turnaround,” says a statement from ferry owner ÆrøeKommune.
Ellen sails seven times longer than any other electric ferry and research by Siemens and Syddansk Vækstforum has shown that more than 80% of all Nordic and European ferry routes can be covered by Ellen’s reach of 22 nautical miles between charges, approximately 40 km. “By achieving five return trips within a single shift, Ellen has shown that both in theory and practice, electric propulsion is an excellent and revolutionary solution to stopping greenhouse gas emissions from regional ferries and other types of shortsea shipping,” says the statement.
Passengers save 10 minutes on a single trip in comparison to the old diesel ferry Ellen replaced. At the same time, Aeroe Ferries saves money on crew expenses, because electric propulsion technology is “significantly simpler and needs less maintenance than traditional diesel technology. Furthermore, recharging the batteries has proven to be significantly cheaper than filling a tank with fuel”.
A few passengers have requested more departures. With that in mind, the traffic director of the Municipality of Ærø, and chief executive of Aeroe Ferries Keld M Moller said "From the start we have aimed for five return-trips within a 14-hour span, since this means we do not have to change crews during the day, and we are very satisfied to fulfill another goal, to the benefit of our customers. Our crew is very happy with Ellen, and the problems we had have become less and less. The optimisation we did on manoeuvring have been especially well received."
The project is now in its final phase where the ferry is in normal operation, demonstrating it is possible to sail between five and seven return trips per day. Seven return trips are possible, however this will require a crew shift which is not necessary to satisfy current transportation needs.