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Power Transportation Technology

Electric Car Ferries Enter Service In Norway (bbc.co.uk) 99

AmiMoJo writes from a report via BBC: Following two years of trials of the world's first electric car ferry, named Ampere, Norwegian ferry operators are busy making the transition from diesel. It is thought that 84 ferries are ripe for conversion to electric power, and 43 ferries on longer routes would benefit from conversion to hybrids that use diesel engines to charge their batteries. If this were done, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions would be cut by 8,000 tons per year and CO2 emissions by 300,000 tons per year, equivalent to the annual emissions from 150,000 cars. The Ampere uses an 800kWh battery, equivalent to 8 high end Tesla cars. According to a report from Siemens and environmental campaign group Bellona, long-distance ferries are not well suited to electrification, but about 70% of Norway's ferries cover relatively short crossings, so switching to electric power would pay for itself in a few years. The BBC report also mentions some of the challenges associated with converting the diesel ferries to electric ferries. For example, "during initial trials, the fast charging placed excessive strain on the local grid, designed as it was to service a relatively small population," reports BBC. "To lighten the load, high-capacity batteries were put on constant charge on either side of the fjord, ready to transfer the electricity quickly to the ferry's batteries whilst docked."
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Electric Car Ferries Enter Service In Norway

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  • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2017 @07:44PM (#54182435)

    Lithium-ion batteries are 80-90% efficient at charging, meaning that if you have to charge a battery on the pier in order to charge the ferry (explained in TFA as necessarily to buffer to load on the grid), then your charging efficiency is about 72% (0.85**2). That means the 150KWH that you have to spend on-ferry means you have to draw 210KWH from the grid. YMMV, but here in the US that's gonna run $35-40, much more than "a cup of coffee and a waffle".

    Other than the double charge loss, which stood out as kind of costly, this seems like a solid and sensible engineering project. What I'd really like to hear is someone to do a 10-year follow up on whether they met their cost estimates and what else was interesting (hopefully nothing).

    Actually, in general, following up seems like a good idea. We do a lot of hyping about the future and the present, not a lot of the boring work of "hey, so what happened to $COOL_IDEA or $NEW_PROJECT?" Maybe there should be a /. category for that :-)

    • Given that the most efficient diesel ferry engines are about 52% efficient, 72% from battery losses doesn't seem too bad. Also, given that all of Norway's electricity is generated from renewables, there's a massive efficiency gain in not having to refine oil or transport it.

      • by Imrik ( 148191 )

        To be fair, that's 72% of whatever efficiency you get at the pier after accounting for losses in production and transportation of energy.

        • Yes, and oil and gas has no energy cost in "production" and "transportation"?

          You should once look at a pipeline more closely to understand how the oil is actually "pumped", or more interesting how that is donw with gas. Hint: the amount of gas getting out of the pipeline is significantly less than the amount you put in at the other end ...

        • Sure, thankfully though, the production and transmission losses for electricity are far lower than the production and transmission losses for diesel.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Other than the double charge loss, which stood out as kind of costly, this seems like a solid and sensible engineering project. What I'd really like to hear is someone to do a 10-year follow up on whether they met their cost estimates and what else was interesting (hopefully nothing).

      I think the project is cool, but quite limited in application to Norwegian fjords. "Geologically, a fjord or fiord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion."

      Long = going around is pretty hopeless
      Narrow = sea distance is quite short
      Steep sides = big depths make tunnels or bridge supports super hard

      All of these contribute to rather unique environment where electric ferries make sense. Currently there's 7 ferries on the main coast road and the estimated cost to make a "fer

      • I think that there are other places that could use these ferries too. If not the all-electric ones at least the hybrid ferries. On the west coast of Canada between Vancouver Island and the mainland there are a number of islands that have service with small ferries. I'm sure that converting these over to electric or hybrid would be worth looking at. I bet there are many other places across the world where there are many islands in close proximity.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ferry means you have to draw 210KWH from the grid. YMMV, but here in the US that's gonna run $35-40, much more than "a cup of coffee and a waffle".

      Price of electricity for Norway, via Google, is about $0.04 per kWh, so 210 kWH is about $8. That isn't far from the 0.06 USD I pay from the hydro dominated BC grid. I'm sorry if you live some place that is paying 0.17-0.20 per kWh, as even a couple years ago when I lived in areas that were fossil fuel dominated, I paid only $0.14.

    • YMMV, but here in the US that's gonna run $35-40, much more than "a cup of coffee and a waffle".

      Before you decide how cost effective this is, you have to consider how many passengers there are on the average trip. If the answer is 100, then the fuel cost per passenger is only $.35 or so, much less than it would be if they all had to drive cars over a bridge, especially when you factor in the fact that the ferry company's buying their fuel at wholesale rates, not retail. And, if you take a look at how f
    • FWIW, they could likely get by with using the battery for about half the capacity and directly charging the other 50%... and there is also the possibility of the batteries being on a cart and rolled on/off, although the added complexity is unlikely to be worth the energy savings.
    • by Imrik ( 148191 )

      Was thinking about the same thing and wondering if it might be more efficient to swap the batteries each time. Would have to design them for relatively quick swaps but would remove the double loss and the need for high speed charging. Would probably also need a smaller set on board that didn't get swapped to maintain power during the swaps.

    • Coffee is very expensive in Norway.

    • It is actually very easy to google how efficient lithium ion batteries are in charging and recharging.
      E.g.: https://www.powertechsystems.e... [powertechsystems.eu]

      There is no reason to make up your absurd numbers and use them for a pointless argument.

      For those who are to lazy to read: lithium ion batteries charge and recharge with nearly 100% efficiency.

    • It's not clear that there would be a double charge loss. Maybe you need to draw 5,000 amps and the grid can only handle supplying you 3500 amps. You could either charge slowly or you could draw 3500amps from the grid and 1500 from the batteries, as an example. That would make the double-charging loss much smaller.
    • but here in the US that's gonna run $35-40

      That would be very scary, until you saw just how much fuel a ferry uses and how much that costs.

    • That means the 150KWH that you have to spend on-ferry means you have to draw 210KWH from the grid. YMMV, but here in the US that's gonna run $35-40, much more than "a cup of coffee and a waffle".

      $40 to fuel a ferry run for 200+ people?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2017 @08:30PM (#54182645)

    Of course it would be named after Andre-Marie Ampere, the next one will be named after Alessandro Volta, but there was a lot of resistance about naming the third one after Georg Simon Ohm.

    AC

    • Yeah I find myself reacting to the idea as well.

    • Of course it would be named after Andre-Marie Ampere, the next one will be named after Alessandro Volta, but there was a lot of resistance about naming the third one after Georg Simon Ohm.

      AC

      So name it after Ernst Werner von Siemens, who is the reciprocal of Georg Simon Ohm.

  • What other options did they consider? For example, physically swapping the batteries might be feasible here, rather than rapid charging which tends to wear out the battery. I wonder how a flywheel would have performed?

    • RTFA?

      The batteries weight 11tons.

      What is wrong in your eyes with simply recharging them over night and "topping" them a bit at every stop?

  • Norway has an overabundance of hydroelectric power [huffingtonpost.com]. Hydro is by far the cheapest renewable (cheaper than coal). And, provided you have enough of it to meet or exceed your consumption, it's available on-demand, unlike wind or solar. That is, it can cover both base load and peaking load.

    Unfortunately, most countries don't have such an abundance of the almost perfect renewable energy source. So they'd end up burning coal or natural gas to provide base load electricity at 40%-50% efficiency, transmitted
    • Your math is right, your conclusion is not. At 32% thermal efficiency your still much better than petrol or diesel engines. At perfectly equal positions burning coal is much better for the environment than burning diesel or petrol. Butfew countries burn exclusively coal.

      As for carrying something, of there's one thing shops are good at then it's carrying something. Your post makes sense in the context of an aircraft which would be crippled by the weight but not in the context of a ship.

    • Your efficiency numbers make no sense. Same your ideas about "cost" ;D
      I suggest to google a bit.

      The point of the ferry is: don't have smoke/fumes/dust/soot in the harbor.

  • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Thursday April 06, 2017 @01:41AM (#54183615)

    Someone tell me why this is impossible due to such and such or something or other they read on the Internet!

  • And 43 ferries on longer routes would benefit from conversion to hybrids that use diesel engines to charge their batteries.

    Surprised there are any gains to be had here. Hybrids are great for stop/start vehicles like commuter cars and especially buses, but we get losses through various inefficiencies as well. Are they really stopped/peak accelerating for long enough to get serious gains? Well, I guess so... Still seems surprising.

    As for the regular ferries, if we're using batteries anyway, it seems like t

    • Strictly speaking, a lot of boats have been hybrid for quite some time now (diesel-electric propulsion, for example). This allows motors to always operate at their maximum efficiency, and to get rid of gearboxes. It also simplifies power transmission, and allows deported motors to be put more easily, as far as I know.

      I don't know how this compares to the "hybrids" of this article, but it doesn't seem to be that different, maybe except for the batteries, thus the opportunity for fully-electric operation?
      • by hipp5 ( 1635263 )

        Strictly speaking, a lot of boats have been hybrid for quite some time now (diesel-electric propulsion, for example).

        Trains too. If they're not pure electric drawn from overhead lines (or third rail), they're almost certainly a diesel-electric hybrid. To the GP: In the case of trains (and with the ferries), it's not like a hybrid car where the ICE drives the wheels and electric motors assist. Instead, the train is electric drive, and just happens to carry around its own diesel power plant.

      • Yes. I didn't consider that these were mostly diesel-electric anyway for various reasons so they're not changing the design of anything too substantially. They're just adding some batteries to smooth out the demand for the power.
  • But I wouldn't call them "electric".

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