The health of our planet has become a challenging topic for the maritime industry. Shipping companies begin to realise that it is high time they started caring about the environment and made "Green Shipping" a reality. Therefore, increased awareness of this issue contributed to the fact that huge amounts of money started to be invested into the development of eco-friendly and innovative technology which aims to reduce fuel consumption, namely electrical cells, solar panels, energy storage modules and many more. This trend seems to be even stronger in Norway where the government is constantly pushing for cleaner technologies in transportation. This is why competition for the creation of low-emission and fuel-efficient car ferries, which are absolutely necessary for moving people and freight across Norwegian short stretches of water, is becoming more and more keen.
One of the most interesting examples of such competition is a partnership of ferry operator Norled, Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand and Siemens formed to develop the “World’s First” electric car ferry- ZeroCat ™. This 80-meter vessel can carry up to 120 cars and 360 passangers, and it can fully recharge its batteries in just 10 minutes. Furthermore, the 260-foot ferry is equipped with electric motors powered by a battery weighing 10 metric tons to drive the ship’s two screws. Though the battery is quite heavy, the ship, thanks to slim-design twin hulls made of aluminium, weighs half as much as a conventional catamaran ferry. According to Siemens, ZeroCat’s ™ full day’s operation would consume 6000 kWh, plus it could eliminate nearly 3000 tons of CO2 emissions. The ferry is supposed to enter passanger service in 2015 on a route between Lavik and Oppedal, and is expected to be in service with Norled at least through 2025.
The ZeroCat ™ is an example that not only cars can be electrically powered, but also car ferries. This is an absolute breakthrough in the electric vehicle industry, which may soon be realized by other countries as well. And already, similar ideas for green technology in ferry use are appearing in other parts of the world such as Scotland, New York City and Hong Kong. Hopefully in the future, and with Nelton’s suport, the majority of countries will take steps in using and promoting alternative energy.