The world’s largest electric ferry, the Utility Ro-Pax, is currently under construction by Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat. Measuring 148 meters in length, this state-of-the-art vessel has been designed by Revolution Design and will be powered by two powerful electric motors, with a combined output of 5 and 9.6 MW. The ferry will be able to accommodate up to 2,100 passengers and 150 cars, and will have a maximum speed of 25 knots and a maximum range of 185 km.

The Buquebus company has ordered the ferry, which will be used to transport passengers between Argentina and Uruguay, and it is expected to be delivered in 2025. This ferry marks a significant milestone in the electric motorization of marine transportation, and demonstrates the potential for large-scale electric vessels to serve as an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional fossil fuel powered ships.

The Utility Ro-Pax, the world’s largest electric ferry, is being constructed by Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat and designed by Revolution Design. The vessel, which will be used to transport passengers between Argentina and Uruguay, will be powered by two powerful electric motors, with a combined output of 5 and 9.6 MW.

In order to achieve zero-emission crossings, the team initially considered using LNG but ultimately decided to rely on an electric motor. This decision resulted in a significant reduction of weight on the ship, as 400 tonnes of batteries replaced 500 tonnes of equipment and fuel tanks.

Additionally, the ship’s structure is made of aluminum instead of steel to further reduce weight. According to the manufacturer, the design of such an electric ferry is no more expensive than a traditional ship.

The use of electric power on ferries is particularly beneficial as they typically make round trips on the same routes, eliminating the need for infrastructure to recharge the batteries. On board, passengers will experience a comfortable and quiet ride, free of fuel odors. The crew will also have a different experience, as the engines will deliver 100% power immediately, giving the sensation of maneuvering a speedboat rather than a ferry.

80% savings

The use of electric power in marine transportation not only has environmental benefits, but also financial advantages. In Norway, the first 100% electric ferry has been in operation and the company that operates it has reported a cost reduction of 80%.

Similarly, in Denmark, the Ellen ferry, which was the largest electric boat until the arrival of the Utility Ro-Pax, has saved around 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year since its use in 2019. The Ellen ferry currently holds the record for the highest autonomy for an electric ferry, with a range of 22 nautical miles (40 km).

Safety is also a top priority for electric ferries, and the Utility Ro-Pax will be equipped with oversized batteries to avoid breakdowns at sea. In the event of loss of cells, the boat will still be able to return to port. Incat, the shipbuilder of the Utility Ro-Pax, is confident in the future of electric boats and has already scaled its facilities and recruited staff to meet the expected demand.

It is worth noting that while the aviation sector is often cited for its 2-3% contribution to global CO2 emissions, shipping contributes to around 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, so the use of electric ferries can play a significant role in reducing emissions in the marine transportation industry.

Maritime transport is a significant contributor to global emissions, accounting for 3% of emissions worldwide and up to 12% in Europe alone. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set ambitious targets to reduce these emissions, with a goal of reducing CO2 emissions from new ships built from 2025 by 30%.

The IMO aims to reduce the average global emissions of the fleet by 40% by 2030. These targets reflect the increasing urgency to address the environmental impact of the shipping industry and the need for more sustainable solutions, such as electric propulsion.

The Utility Ro-Pax, the world’s largest electric ferry, is an example of how electric propulsion can be used to reduce emissions in marine transportation and pave the way for a greener future for the shipping industry.