The ferry, built at the shipyard in Søby on Als, was built through partnership between Ærø Municipality and the EU, national broadcaster DR reports.
Although other ferries operating in Denmark also use electricity, the Ellen is the first not to have a diesel engine on board.
The vessel took two years to build and experienced a number of problems during construction—but these will provide valuable experience for future projects, according to Søby Værft (Shipyard) director Roar C. Falkenberg.
“We believe electric ferries are the future and we now have a huge amount of knowledge. So we feel well equipped for the coming years and the development of battery power on ferries,” Falkenberg told DR.
Ship’s engineer Hans Otto Kristensen told the broadcaster that the Ellen, compared to conventionally-powered ferries, produced 50 percent less CO2. Particle emissions are just a thirtieth of those with conventional ferries.
Jacob Clasen, executive director with Danish Shipping, said that the Ellen may soon be accompanied on Danish waters by other ‘clean’ electric ferries.
“Every ferry route is unique, so each must be considered individually. Many of the ferry services to smaller island receive (financial) support, so there is also the question of whether the will is present,” Clasen told Ritzau.
One potential challenge is to provide charging facilities at harbours, with a sufficient electricity supply required for this, Clasen noted.