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Ellen proves all-electric ferries are the future of marine transport

The ferry's makers think 70% of Europe's ferry trips could be electrified

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Remember that electric ferry that uses 57 Teslas worth of batteries to power its motors? You know, the one that sails between the Danish island of Ærø, and Fynshav on the mainland? The one called Ellen! Yes, Ellen.

Well, she just won an award! Ellen was recognized as the leader in the transport and mobility category in the 2020 European Solar Prize awards run by Eurosolar, a non-profit organization that advocates for renewable energy.

“Today’s winners demonstrate how the world can become fully renewable, a generative reality – wonderful ambassadors of the Regenerative Earth Decade Eurosolar calls for,” the president and chairman of the jury Prof. Peter Droege said.

Ellen, ferry, boat, passenger
Credit: Electrive.com
Ellen, the electric ferry uses 57 Teslas worth of electrical power to travel its 20km trip.

According to figures in a recent BBC report and Ship-Technology.com, Ellen will help cut 2,000 tons of CO2, 41,500kg of NOx, and 1,350kg of SO2 every year.

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Let’s remember, Denmark, where Ellen operates, produces a lot of renewable electricity from wind turbines. Around 50% of its energy mix comes from wind.

With its use of renewable energy, batteries, and electric motors, Ellen is a shining example of what can be achieved in a sector that presently relies on heavy marine diesel for power.

Ellen is a valuable proof of concept for short journeys, as it only has to travel 20 km. Based on the data and knowledge gained from operating Ellen, Ellen’s makers believe that more than 70% of Europe’s ferry routes could be converted to use electrically-powered boats.

Battery technology might not be ready to electrify long-haul ferry routes, but hopefully in time as energy density in cells improves that will become a reality in the future. Ellen is an important first step.

The jury said Ellen represents “the great potential of green electric mobility in shipping.”

Anil Srivastava, CEO of Leclanché, the company that made Ellen’s battery systems, is naturally very proud of the ferry‘s award. They say the vessel is a milestone in marine transport and proves that fossil fuel engines can be replaced with cleaner alternatives.

So what are we waiting for? It sure seems that ferries like Ellen are the future of marine transport, certainly for short haul trips.

A full list of winners and the projects they were recognized for can be found on Eurosolar’s website, here.

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Published December 9, 2020 — 09:53 UTC