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Due to stricter environmental regulations and increasing global competition, maritime industry is going through some major changes and looking for alternative ways to become more sustainable. Electric mobility, which is often associated with land-based transportation such as cars, has become a hot topic also for waterborne transportation modes. E-mobility comprises vehicles and vessels that are powered by an electric motor, get their energy primarily from the power grid and can be recharged externally. E-mobility solutions are generally seen as a good way to reduce greenhouse gas and noise emissions which has made them a lucrative option for shipping, too.

In CSHIPP, e-mobility is incorporated into platform activities with the help of partner project BSR Electric which aims at fostering e-mobility solutions in urban areas in the Baltic Sea region, focusing particularly on e-ferries and implementation in urban transport to reduce harmful emissions. The connection to the larger topic of clean shipping comes down to the question of how the successful experiences with e-ferries could be reproduced and utilised on other ships. Therefore, the connection is mainly about determining the current status of the game, defining future requirements for clean shipping and analysing how e-mobility solutions could make a contribution in this area.

On the 5th of March, a workshop “E-Ferries & Urban E-Mobility – Electric drives, alternative fuels, experiences and benefits from the automotive sector” was organised at the event center of the Porsche factory in Leipzig, Germany.  The workshop brought together stakeholders from different sectors to discuss various cases of e-mobility applications on land, water and in the air. The aim was to provide an overview of technical issues and other related topics of e-mobility and to discuss and categorise the factors which are essential for successful implementation. The workshop featured, among other things, a presentation on the implementation of e-mobility to waterbound transport by Weiße Flotte GmbH and a discussion on the shipbuilding aspects for energy saving and clean shipping by Baltic Engineering Flare GmbH.

Based on the presentations and discussions of the workshop, ferries on connections with short journeys as well as on protected waters or inland waters are well suited for electrification. In an urban environment, the infrastructure requirements are usually in place or can be implemented with little effort. Furthermore, due to the relatively low drive power required for such e-ferries, solar energy can largely be used as an energy source. Positive experiences with electrification of ferry connections on inland waters suggest that there is great potential for both the operation and the production of electric ferries elsewhere, too. This is not to say that the are no hurdles to overcome. The current challenges range from factors such as the efficiency of batteries to issues like the availability of suitable charging infrastructure. However, the first successful implementations of e-ferries in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Germany indicate that utilisation e-mobility solutions in waterborne transportation in the Baltic Sea region is already a reality and that there is potential for further developments in the field.

To find out more about e-mobility and the proceedings of the workshop, please download a report (pdf) of the workshop here.