Full "Electrically-Propelled" Speed Ahead


Published Nov 18, 2017 6:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

Over the course of a two-day press trip, selected representatives of the media had the chance to gain first-hand experience of Finland’s pioneering spirit when it comes to environmentally friendly ships’ propulsion systems.

Alongside Norway, the country is home to the world’s first fully electrical car ferries – fitted with propulsion technology from Siemens.

Most people associate Finland with saunas, the midnight sun, coffee of a strength that would command the respect of even the most intrepid Italian, and a marked awareness of environmental issues among its population. Finland is among those countries of the world which have focused on and achieved the successful generation of clean, renewable energy. So it comes as no surprise that the land of the Northern Lights is also home to the first battery-propelled ferries – which are powered with the aid of Siemens technology. As long ago as 2015, Siemens supplied the propulsion system for the Ampere, the world’s first all-electric ferry.

Since then, the Ampere has welcomed new family members to the fold, including the Electra.

In theory and practice 

A press trip to Finland, or to be more precise to Turku, from 15 to 16 November 2017 gave a total of 15 representatives of the media the chance to gain a first-hand impression of the quiet, elegant and comfortable vessel which transports passengers and their cars safely between Parainen and Nauvo in the Finnish Archipelago. By way of an introduction on the first day of the trip, Head of Marine & Shipbuilding at Siemens Norway Odd Moen and CEO of FinFerries Mats Rosin presented the Siemens digitalization concept for shipbuilding and the Elektra, Finland’s first battery-powered car ferry. 

“The Elektra is part of a fleet now numbering four fully electrically propelled ferries run by the shipping company FinFerries which are equipped with our BlueDrive Plus C propulsion concept,” explained Odd Moen. “This encompasses a power storage system, a warning and observation system and variable-speed propulsion technology for the propellers.

The batteries are charged as long as the vessel is docked – using electricity produced from hydroelectric power.” Anyone who has any experience of this idyllic country in the North of Europe will know that the winters here are long and hard. If the ferry should ever need to make headway through ice, a supporting diesel engine can be additionally deployed if necessary. This hybrid solution provides the passengers with the assurance that they will arrive on schedule however tough the ambient conditions.

Pioneering work to benefit the environment

The gathered journalists had the opportunity to experience this type of ferry crossing for themselves on the second day. Leaving the hotel by bus, they travelled to the landing stage at Parainen, where the Elektra was moored up ready and waiting to welcome its guests. The ferry offers capacity for around 90 cars and travels daily at regular intervals between Parainen und Nauvo. During the crossing, which took around 1.5 hours, Odd Moen and Mats Rosin gave the journalists a guided tour of the ferry complete with an insight into its complex and ultra-modern technology.

“Battery-powered ferries are vital to the achievement of sustainable, efficient and reliable shipping”, sums up Mats Rosin. “We’re proud to have accomplished something of a pioneering achievement with the ferries of our electric fleet thanks to Siemens, and we’re excited about the possibilities afforded by these green technologies.”

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