Elomatic to conduct feasibility study on the electrification of Åland ferry

The Government of Åland has ordered a feasibility study from Elomatic on replacing the propulsion system of the archipelago ferry M/S Skarven with the aim of making operations more efficient and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Alternatives to be evaluated include electrifying the ferry and converting it into a hybrid vessel. M/S Skarven plays an important role in Åland’s internal traffic, and the modernization will help enable the local green transition.

M/S Skarven is an archipelago ferry operated by the Government of Åland, which runs in the Åland archipelago all year round. The ferry operates from Svinö in Lumparland to Degerby in Föglö in half an hour and is of great importance to the inhabitants of the archipelago, as well as for tourism and business. In addition, it serves as a transport route to the east.

Examining the cost-effective reduction of carbon dioxide emissions

The Government of Åland has ordered a feasibility study from consulting and engineering services company Elomatic on various options to improve the operations of M/S Skarven and reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of ferry traffic. Currently, the ferry runs on diesel fuel, and its engines are not operating at optimal load, resulting in higher fuel consumption.

“The goal of the Government of Åland is to make traffic green as cost-effectively as possible,” says Janne Sarjomaa, Project Manager at Elomatic.

The agreement includes an assessment of the technical feasibility and profitability of the modernization. In addition, Elomatic will study the requirements for a shore charging network in order to clarify whether the current charging power at Åland’s ports is sufficient.

Electrification of ferry would bring many benefits

One potential solution would be to convert the M/S Skarven ferry to electric power, which would reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs. The benefits of electrification also include a reduction in noise levels and a smoother ride. The modernization could also increase the attractiveness of the ferry as a travel option.

In addition to electrification, Elomatic will study the feasibility of a hybrid solution.

“When electrifying, the charging network must also be taken into account. It may be that the battery balance needs to be increased so that it is sufficient for the planned amount of traffic,” Sarjomaa explains.

Government prioritized experience in selection

The Government of Åland selected Elomatic on the basis of its extensive experience in similar feasibility studies.

“Elomatic is also familiar with the traffic patterns, needs and possibilities of Åland’s archipelago traffic,” says Joel Karlsson, Technical Superintendent of the Government of Åland.

Sarjomaa emphasizes that Elomatic is a big company with a wide range of services.

“We offer both marine and building electrical services. If the design of the charging section requires more in-depth expertise, we can make use of our own electrical design experience. We can also consult on different fuel solutions, whether it’s electrification, partial electrification, electric propulsion or a hybrid solution,” Sarjomaa says.

Results in autumn 2023

The project kicked off in June. The cooperation did not start entirely from scratch, as the Government of Åland and Elomatic have already cooperated in the past regarding hydrogen production for ferry transport.

The feasibility study will be in full swing at the beginning of August, and Elomatic will submit the final reports to the Government by the end of September. After this, the Government will make a decision on further measures.