Ferry electrification is a growing global trend, driven by an interest in reducing operational and maintenance costs, and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Ferries are particularly well suited for electrification due to their relatively short travel distances over fixed routes, relatively long periods moored to the pier, and their ample onboard space for battery packs. The MV Ampere, the world’s first all-electric ferry and placed into operation in 2015, has a reported 80% reduction in cost and 95% reduction in emissions compared to similar fuel-powered vessels (Lambert 2018).
The Ferry Division long range plan “Ferry Forward 2050” includes a recommendation to study electrification options for vessels. A move toward vessel electrification is in line with North Carolina’s commitment to a clean energy economy as outlined in Executive Order 80. While a great deal of information regarding electrification exists from adoption by numerous ferry operators both nationally and globally, research specific to electrification of NC ferry vessels operating short haul routes needed.
The results will support the leadership of the NCDOT Ferry Division in integrating milestone goals for infrastructure improvements and vessel modification/acquisition into long-range budgetary and operations plans, pursuing funding external to NCDOT in support of ferry electrification, and effectively communicate with stakeholders.