The first hybrid electric ferry in Asia has set sail in the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung, in the first stage of a plan to clean up the city’s marine transport sector with electric ship technology.
Finnish electric shipmaker Visedo worked with Taiwan’s Ship and Ocean Industries R&D Center to retrofit the Cijin Island passenger ferry with an electric powertrain, to create Asia’s first hybrid electric ferry.
The new e-ferry, dubbed Ferry Happiness, began carrying passengers across the harbour to Cijin Island, a popular tourist destination in Taiwan, at the end of last month. Running on electric power for 50 per cent of the average journey, it will use half the amount of fuel normally used to carry its 15,000 daily passengers, and over the course of the year it is expected to save more than 25,000 litres of fuel every year.
The ferry will still run on diesel for half the time, but according to Visedo once fast-shore charging ability is installed the percentage of electric running time will be even higher.
If the revamped ferry is successful, the Kaohsiung City Government has plans to convert the rest of the region’s fleet to cut pollution and improve air quality in the city.
Asia is a key market for green ferries, with many people relying on daily ferry crossings to get to work but rising concern over the air quality impacts of diesel engines. In Hong Kong for example, passenger ferries make up the majority of the licensed vessels in Victoria Harbour, but air pollution kills more than 3,000 people in the city area each year.
The converted ferry presents a viable solution for city authorities to tackle air pollution without having to replace an existing fleet, Visedo chief executive Kimmo Rauma said in a statement. “Visedo has developed a cost-effective and efficient alternative, so rather than waiting until a vessel’s service life ends, harbour cities can swap noisy, dirty and expensive diesel for silent electric powertrains that are more efficient, can halve fuel costs and emit no fumes or oil pollution,” he explained.