In a boost for zero-emission vessels the “world’s first” electric car ferry has been launched in Norway.
The 80-meter electric car ferry called ZeroCat has been jointly developed by electronic manufacturer Siemens, the Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand, and shipping company Norled as part of a competition organized by Norway’s Ministry of Transport.
The ship is set to serve the route between Lavik and Oppedal in Norway, across the famous Sognefjord, and has the capacity to carry 120 cars and 360 passengers.
By winning this competition, Norled has been granted a license to operate on this route until 2025.
Rather than a diesel engine, ZeroCat is equipped with electric motors to drive the ship’s two screws. These motors are powered by a battery weighing 10 metric tons.
The ship has also been specially designed to fit the requirements of an electric drive system. As a catamaran with two slim hulls, it offers less resistance in the water than a conventional vessel. The hulls are also made of aluminium instead of heavier steel. Overall, the ferry weighs half as much as a conventional design.
Batteries have been installed at each port to allow the ferry’s battery to be recharged during turnaround times. According to Siemens, these batteries are then themselves slowly recharged from the local grid.
Using an electric ferry will bring significant environmental benefits. The ferry currently making the crossing uses an average of one million litres of diesel fuel a year and emits 570 metric tons of carbon dioxide as well as 15 metric tons of nitrogen oxides.
The electric ferry will begin operations from 2015 onwards.
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