Affordable and clean energy
2030 it will be launched. Stena Elektra. The fully electric ferry will operate between Stena Line’s homeport in Gothenburg and Frederikshavn, leaving the rest of the shipping industry in its wake. The target is absolute. But the map that will get them there remains uncharted.
According to Patrik Almqvist, Head of Network and Fleet at Stena Line, there are several reasons why the shipping industry has lagged behind other transport areas in the field of electromobility.
“For large ferries, batteries are a considerable challenge. It takes a huge amount of energy to move a ship across the water, which of course affects the bulk of batteries needed. Another large obstacle is how to charge these batteries when in port. In simpler terms: the challenge grows with the size of the transport,” he says.
Disrupting the industry
The starting point for Stena Elektra was one of Stena Teknik’s pilot projects that explored a future-proof concept. The bold ideas presented caught traction.
“When we saw the prototype, we were immediately intrigued. Here was both an opportunity to push technological boundaries and the commercial viability to turn it into reality. In order to reduce our emissions, we have already created ground-breaking methanol and battery-hybrid vessels. Stena Elektra represents the next step in this evolution. This will be an important part of our future,” says Patrik Almqvist.
The ship, which will operate the route between the two Nordic ports in nine years, might have sprung from conceptual ideas, but it will be a completely different vessel. By then the 215-metre-long ferry will have a capacity of 3100 lane metres, 160 trucks or 700 cars, and up to 1500 passengers.
As Patrik Almqvist mentioned, charging the ship in port will be a challenge. In order for a ferry of Stena Elektra’s proportions to traverse from Göteborg to Frederikshavn, 30 MWh of energy is required. This corresponds to the daily electricity consumption of approximately 850 households. Few ports have the infrastructure required to meet this demand, especially when the ship is only docked for 60 to 90 minutes.
Electrification is not the target – action is
There are more matters that need to be addressed. For Stena Line, it is not yet certain if battery drive is the only way to go. However, it is not the energy source itself that is the goal, rather getting rid of emissions. By 2030 Stena Line aims to reduce its total CO2 emissions by 30 percent, and in 2050 the ferry company aims for zero emissions.
“We are going to launch a completely fossil-free ship. That is our mission. Exactly what energy sources will be used remains to be seen. But we have to challenge ourselves, and we must start running – now,” Patrik Almqvist says.
In the end, Stena Elektra might not be fully electric – but it will be fully fossil-free. To reach that goal, questions must get answered and obstacles overcome. Energy source, infrastructure and whether policy makers are up for the task. What can be stated is that Stena Elektra won’t be a one-off, it will be a flexible modular concept used as a blueprint for many vessels to come.
A decade of action
Regardless of the challenges ahead, Stena Elektra will become reality. The next nine years will be crucial, for the project as well as the industry as a whole. Within a year, an updated concept design of the ferry will be revealed, and by 2025, the first order can be placed, paving the way for the launch in 2030.
“This is an important signal that we send both to the decision-makers and the industry. If we really want to achieve our climate goals, we must carry out these kinds of projects. We all agree that it is time to make a change. But it is imperative that decision-makers provide the conditions needed for us to make it happen,” Patrik Almqvist concludes.