Electric ferry gets off to a great start with DEIF solution
New electric ferry with DEIF system on board
In 2021, Molslinjen decided to boost the reliability of the ferry service by reducing the workload for its two existing ferries, the Fenja and Menja, and at the same time minimise its environmental impact by adding a third ferry, the electric Grotte. The batteries on the new ferry power two 375 kW electric motors that take up to 35 cars and 300 passengers across at a service speed of 11.5 knots. The Grotte recharges its batteries from a 2 x 1,250 kW shore supply during each 8-minute stay in the port of Esbjerg; this provides the necessary energy for a purely electric round trip.
The electrical installations on board were handled by installation company Vest-El who used the DEIF Delomatic 4 power and energy management system to control and coordinate the power generating equipment on board and the connection to shore. In addition, DEIF contributed technical support and know-how throughout the project to ensure successful completion.
State-of-the-art power and energy management
The Delomatic 4 system on the Grotte is a state-of-the-art power and energy management system that can be customised and engineered to fit a wide range of specifications and requirements. It is a perfect match for marine hybrid applications such as battery solutions and DC bus solutions, and the system can be monitored and controlled from multiple operator touch screens.
These features make the system a perfect match for the Grotte with its energy storage systems and DC bus. The control system on the ferry includes features for both daily operations and maintenance and can easily be accessed from 15” touch screens mounted on the bridge and in the two engine rooms. DEIF and Molslinjen staff can also access the system remotely to carry out monitoring or troubleshooting over a secure internet connection. The system provides facility management for the battery management system and displays important battery alarms on the operator touch screens, and it allows the crew to easily switch and manage batteries and inverters.
“We use the DEIF systems for power and energy management,” explains Thomas Jensen. “It’s very easy to connect engines, shore power, and charging power out there. Our navigators use the DEIF setups for battery, power, and energy management, and we use them in connection with maintenance and connecting and disconnecting the engines and motors. It works well.”
Thomas Jensen, Superintendent Molslinjen
A good overview with no distractions
The 12-minute crossing goes through a narrow trench with little space to give way, and deeper waters right outside the port of Esbjerg where there is often heavy traffic. To ensure safe passage, the crew needs to manoeuvre constantly during the crossing. This is one of the reasons why the Grotte was purposely designed to resemble the Fenja and the Menja.
“That’s what we wanted,” comments Iben Gejl Christensen. “If we were to have a new ferry, it needed to resemble the existing ones as much as possible so we could just get on board and sail off immediately”. Thomas Jensen adds, “The Grotte uses the same ramp system, and it’s important to us that we can use it alongside the Fenja and the Menja.”
The bridge layout and instrumentation are also very similar to those found on the existing ferries, but with one key difference: The 15” touch screen provides a good overview of every important aspect of the crossing. “It took us a little while to realise that we could see everything on one screen, and that we didn’t need to go down to the engine room,” remarks Iben Gejl Christensen. “I think it provides a good overview, and it doesn’t distract us from our operations while we’re sailing back and forth.”
Contributing to greener shipping
When the Grotte was put into service, Danish Minister for Transport Benny Engelbrecht was one of several guests who attended the official launch event, indicating the significance of battery-powered vessels as a means to contribute to lower carbon emissions from shipping. Similarly, the ferry is a perfect match for Molslinjen’s corporate social responsibility policy which calls for responsible conduct while contributing to freedom of movement: Molslinjen is continuously working to identify, prevent, or mitigate adverse impacts on sustainable development, and the Grotte proves that this can be achieved without adversely affecting the ferry timetable, or jeopardising safety on board.
“Our primary target was to get a green solution,” says Thomas Jensen. “We want to be seen as an innovative and sustainably managed transportation company. Molslinjen wants to develop battery operations on its shorter routes in western Denmark. We believe that getting this crossing to work was a good start, and everything indicates that we will succeed so we’re ready to upgrade our other routes with something similar to this. Bigger, of course, but similar!”
Good performance with competent support
Throughout the project, DEIF has supported the Delomatic 4 system with know-how and practical technical solutions based on the company’s extensive experience from all types of marine power applications, including electric and hybrid propulsion solutions. These competences have contributed to a smooth project process where issues and challenges have been resolved quickly through a good and open dialogue between Molslinjen and DEIF. Speaking from a manager’s perspective, Thomas Jensen is very satisfied with the overall DEIF solution.
“I think DEIF has performed well,” he says. “In the project phase, the start-up phase, and the operational phase, they’ve been receptive to the changes we have suggested. It’s important that the people who are going to use the system every day can contribute. Overall, this is one of the best projects I’ve been involved in. I’ve had four or five projects before, but this is one of the best ones”. He stops briefly to think and then concludes, “It’s the best one.”
Thomas Jensen, Superintendent Molslinjen