First electric passenger ferry in the Southern Hemisphere

The Danfoss Editron marine drivetrain system is powering the Southern Hemisphere’s first fully electric passenger ferry, after the East by West Ferries service officially launched the Ika Rere zero-emission vessel in Wellington, New Zealand.

The ferry was commissioned following research results by the New Zealand Government showing that domestic ships such as ferries and freighters emit close to 300,000 tons of CO2 every year. In Wellington, almost half of the city’s emissions came from the transportation sector in 2020.

The 19-meter-long Ika Rere ferry is designed to carry up to 132 passengers on journeys across Wellington Harbor at an operational speed of 20 knots. The journey is not particularly long, and as a result, the ferry is built for a return run of 25 kilometers before charging dockside at a rate of one megawatt for 15 minutes while passengers disembark and board.

For overnight charging, a 300-kilowatt charger will be used at its overnight berth during its first year of operation. The initiators estimate that the Ika Rere ferry will save approximately 640 tons of CO2 annually compared to a similar-sized diesel alternative. However, before entering regular operations, the Ika Rere ferry will complete survey sea trials, before then entering a commissioning stage with East by West Ferries. It is estimated that the electric ferry will enter into full service by the end of Q1 in 2022. The battery system for the ferry was provided by XALT.

“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, adding: “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.”

Jeremy Ward, managing director of East by West Ferries, also had some positive statements about the potential savings from switching away from diesel operation: “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. 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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