World’s Biggest Hybrid Ferry Set To Sail

It’s not as gee-whiz cool as the solar-powered ferry concepts Eco Marine Power has been talking about, but it’s real, it’s here and it’s ready to take a slice out of the greenhouse gas emissions produced when moving up to 300 vehicles and 900 passengers between Denmark and Germany across the Fehmarn Belt.

Corvus Energy announced the commissioning of the Prinsesse Benedikte ferry refit, a conversion from all diesel electric to hybrid using Corvus lithium-polymer battery modules that can provide 2.7 megawatt-hours of energy.

Prinsesse Benedikte (image via Wikimedia Commons

Prinsesse Benedikte (image via Wikimedia Commons)

In a statement [PDF], Corvus Energy CEO Brent Perry called the commissioning a “significant milestone for Corvus because it represents the world’s largest ever hybrid propulsion marine battery pack and an important early success in the marine version of sustainable capitalism.”

Corvus is promising that the batteries, which can be charged in 30 minutes, will last more than ten years and will pay for themselves long before that time period ends. That’s in part due to reduced fuel use, but perhaps more significantly because the batteries will provide power during high-engine stress periods, when moving into, around and out of the harbor.

Scandlines, the ferry operator, noted as well that this will translate to more breathable air around the Rødbyhavn, Denmark, and Puttgarden, Germany, harbors that the Prinsesse  Benedikte shuttles between:

Scandlines is making a significant investment in new green technology that will benefit the people in the areas adjancent to the habour and beyond in terms of reduced pollution. Corvus batteries are used primarbily to minimize diesel engines running at non-optimal load. Further, this means load-leveling fuction in order to keep a high level of fuel efficiency and reduced number of generating sets in service.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.