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Fjellstrand builds world’s first fully electric fast ferry

Published 2 Jan 2023 (updated 30 May 2024) · 3 min read
Medstraum electric fast ferry sailing in the ocean

At a glance

  • World’s first fully battery-electric fast ferry
  • Zero emissions and HSC Code certified
  • Reduces local air and noise pollution

Fjellstrand delivers fully battery-electric fast ferries for passengers. The zero-emission solution drastically cuts greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution from ferry transport. “We are the world’s first shipbuilder to prove that fast ferries can run completely on batteries,” says Edmund Tolo, R&D and Sales Manager at Fjellstrand.

Ferries have been transporting commuters over short distances for centuries, albeit slowly. When motorised boats replaced human-powered vessels, passengers arrived much more quickly at their destination. This changed people’s lives – expanding their work, educational and social opportunities.

Our planet, however, has paid dearly for this efficiency. “Diesel-powered fast ferries are notorious for being one of the worst forms of transport for the climate,” explains Tolo.

Zero-emission fast ferry wins “Ship of the Year”

Fjellstrand delivers a fully battery-electric fast ferry for passenger transport in and near cities. Emissions free, the ferry uses electricity from the grid as its only power source. By rule definition, a fast ferry operates at speeds of 21.6 knots or more.

The world’s first such fast ferry is the MS Medstraum, which services the route between the City of Stavanger, Norway, and the surrounding communities and islands. In 2022, the ferry received the “Ship of the Year” award at the SMM trade fair in Hamburg, Germany.

“We won this award for several reasons,” says Tolo. “Our fast ferry runs up to 27 knots. To achieve this speed on battery power, we have kept the vessel’s weight low by constructing it of aluminium. We have also optimised the hull design and increased propulsive efficiency.”

Medstraum electric fast ferry sailing in the ocean
The Medstraum fast ferry was the culmination of the EU-funded TrAM project. Here on its trial run at Fjellstrand Yard.

Massive emissions reduction

Fjellstrand turns polluting fast ferries into a force for climate change mitigation. As Tolo points out, the numbers are dramatic. “The Medstraum alone will reduce CO2 emissions by 1 500 metric tons per year compared to the existing diesel-powered fast ferry,” he says.

Many commuters will have a cleaner, quieter, more enjoyable way to travel within metro areas along the coast. Moreover, when integrated into an urban mobility system, fast ferries will help to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and noise pollution in city centres.

Safety is high on the agenda as well. Medstraum meets the International Code of Safety for High-Speed Crafts (HSC Code), reducing the risk of accidents, and the batteries are placed to conform with new, stricter safety rules.

“The Medstraum has no diesel engine. This means it weighs less, consumes less power and has fewer maintenance needs than conventional fast ferries,” says Tolo.

Green vessel market getting brighter

The push to decarbonise the maritime industry is creating a high demand for green vessel solutions. Medstraum is not Fjellstrand’s first foray into this market. In 2015, the company delivered Ampere, the world’s first car ferry operated on batteries.

The company designed Medstraum partly based on this technology. It also took inspiration from its partners in the TrAM project, a now-completed Horizon 2020 project to develop a zero emission fast-going passenger vessel through advanced modular production.

Established in 1928, Fjellstrand offers newbuilds, vessel conversion and battery installation for hybrid vessels, general maintenance and shipyard services.

Read more: Fjellstrand electrifies offshore wind service vessels

“We know our fast ferry technology works. All you have to do is start buying from Norwegian shipyards right away,” concludes Tolo.

Edmund Tolo

R&D / Sales Manager

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Omavegen 225, 5632 OMASTRAND, Norway

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