A passenger ferry that emits zero carbon will be plying the
routes between Denmark, Germany and Sweden in the next five years. FutureShip, a subsidiary of GL Group, has designed a ship
that runs on a combination of solar power, fuel cells, batteries and wind
power. It can hold 1,500 passengers and about 1.3 miles of parking space for
The ship is built with a streamlined hull designed
for traveling up to 18 knots (21 miles per hour) and would average about 17 knots
(20 miles per hour). Storage batteries hold some 2,400 kilowatt-hours and a set
of fuel cells totaling 8,300 kilowatts power the engines. Turbines capture
additional electricity from the wind.
Surplus electricity from the grid
produces the hydrogen for the fuel cells, which is stored in tanks on board.
There are no diesel engines and thus no emissions. Further efficiencies come
from the shape of the hull and propellers.
Such vessels are designed for short trips, where the energy
requirements are not as large as for long-haul shipping. The total
cost, FutureShip says, is only about 25 percent more than a conventional ferry.
While ferries don't often use the heavy "bunker oil" that older cargo
ships do, they do burn a lot of fuel –- about a ton per crossing. They also emit
sulphur and oxides of nitrogen in addition to tons of carbon dioxide. So
anything that cuts this back is a welcome step in curbing global warming.
Credit: GL Group