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Roughly 130 ferry routes operate year-round in the rugged fjords of Western Norway. The world’s first electric car and passenger ferry, Ampere, went into commercial operation here in 2015.
Many people living in coastal or island communities are entirely dependent on ferries for transportation. Fuel-powered ferries, however, are highly polluting – emitting CO₂, SO₂, NOₓ and particulate matter.
Conventional ferries are a source of noise pollution as well. The European Environment Agency states that environmental noise has a direct and negative impact on the health and well-being of humans and wildlife. This type of pollution is very hard to tackle because it results from, among other things, increased mobility, which generally considered a social good.
The all-electric, battery-powered Ampere does not emit greenhouse gases or particulates, and its noise emissions are substantially lower than diesel-powered ferries.
The vessel is over 80 metres long, and has a capacity of up to 120 cars, eight lorries and 350 passengers, and a maximum speed of 14 knots. Its batteries are recharged overnight in port using power from existing grid infrastructure.
Designed and built by Fjellstrand in a catamaran style with two aluminium hulls, it weighs half as much as the other ferries operating on the same route, improving fuel efficiency. Ampere received the prestigious 2014 Ship of the Year award at the SMM trade fair in Hamburg.
Ampere crosses a 6-km-wide fjord on its current route between Lavik and Oppedal. Its operator, Norled, launched a sister ferry, Elektra, in 2017.
Recently released data shows that Ampere cuts carbon emissions by 95 per cent and costs by 80 per cent compared to its fuel-powered counterparts.
The electric ferry also improves passenger comfort and working conditions for personnel, reducing exposure to diesel fumes and noise. It is built to withstand tough Norwegian conditions, and can be used nearly anywhere in the world.
According to the website Electrek, ferries are an excellent starting point for electrification of the maritime industry because they often travel short distances and dock for relatively long periods of time at same ports, where they can be charged.
The technology from Ampere has been further developed into Kommandøren, a ferry holding 120 cars or 12 trucks. Ampere har proven that the technology is possible, while Kommandøren is proving that the technology is mature for commercial operations. Kommandøren will operate a route of more than twice the distance of Ampere, at higher speed, with more load capacity and three times the battery capacity.
The world’s first electric car and passenger ferry
Carries up to 120 cars, eight lorries and 350 passengers
Consumes approximately 200 kWh on each crossing