Ferries of the future save 65% carbon dioxide

Easy to switch among batteries, hybrid and diesel with DEIF power management system

In the strait between Denmark and Sweden, two ferries are leading the way to tomorrow’s marine transportation.

In a major project co-financed by the European Union, the M/F Tycho Brahe and M/F Aurora are still equipped with their original diesel-powered engines, but four containers on each top deck hold the equivalent of about 4160 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electrical power: 640 lithium batteries, with 11 megawatt (MW) total. Charging is done with up to 11 MW.

The ships can run on full battery, full diesel or a combined, hybrid set-up. They are two out of four ferries running the busy route between Elsinore (Helsingør), Denmark, and Helsingborg, Sweden, a yearly total of 50,000 times – and with 7.2 million passengers. The ships’ owner, HH Ferries, thus saves 65% CO2 emissions on its battery-sailed initiative.

“We would really like to be a green shipping company, and we want to do something for the environment,” says Henrik Fald Hansen, Senior Chief Engineer on the M/F Tycho Brahe. “This is our contribution.”

The ferries charge the batteries with electricity coming from renewable-generation in Denmark and Sweden – such as wind, hydro and solar. Thus, when the ferries run on battery power alone, they are nearly 100% CO2-free, says Henrik Fald Hansen. They both use DEIF Delomatic 4 systems for power management.

“These are the ferries of the future,” he says. 

 

Three modes with DEIF

When HH Ferries was re-tooling the ships with batteries in 2017, it needed a power management system that could handle the three operating modes: diesel, battery or hybrid. Tycho Brahe was already running with a DEIF power management system since 2013, so DEIF was to upgrade that to a Delomatic 4 for diesel-electric propulsion.

A diesel, “old-fashioned” mode simply operates gensets and main propulsion the usual way, says Per Ole Sørensen, Team Manager in DEIF’s Marine & Offshore System Solutions Department. The power management system calculates and controls the load onboard the vessel, telling the main propulsion how much power is available.

A battery-powered operation must work similarly but collects data from the batteries’ own management system. It calculates how much discharge capacity is available and the max power needed, again making sure the main propulsion is not overloading the system.

And then the ship’s operator – or the system itself – can initiate the hybrid mode. If the energy level in the batteries is low, then it must start up a diesel genset and operate in parallel with the batteries. The main propulsion can even charge the batteries until the ship reaches harbour.

“We have been really, really satisfied in the way the DEIF system handles problems for us. We trust it.”

Henrik Fald Hansen, Senior Chief Engineer |