Posted on January 7, 2021
Electric catamarans are currently being ordered for service on Germany’s biggest lake but alternative synthetic fuel systems are also being looked at for the future, reports Tom Todd.
Josef Siebler, spokesman for Lake of Constance passenger ship operator Bodensee Schiffsbetriebe (BSB) told Maritime Journal an EU-wide invitation to tender for two all-electric catamaran ferries was being issued late December. The ships are described as the first step in the creation of an eco-friendly passenger ship fleet on Germany’s biggest lake up to 2030. Sieber added “we are also monitoring the development of possible alternative drive systems“.
That was echoed by BSB Technical Head Christoph Witte, who said that “parallel to the acquisition of the new electric ships, the BSB is preparing the remaining ships in its fleet for a switch to E-fuels, in other words eco-friendly synthetic fuels“.
Witte said that ideally the first all-electric ship would serve from summer 2022 and that the second could be built straight after that perhaps for operation by 2025. They would replace at least one diesel-electric ship.
Who will build the new ships or supply the components is not yet known. Siebler said however they will be fully-electric with electric motors and carry storage batteries charged from solar panels.
Witte said the catamaran design had been chosen because of lower surface resistance compared to monohull ships. The catamarans will also be smaller than the current ferries in the BSB fleet of 14 ships, which range in size from about 30m to 60m. Made of aluminium, they will also be lighter than conventional ships with lower propulsion and energy needs and provide a reduced 15 knots.
Witte said the new ships were “being regarded as prototypes, with which we can test and develop ship propulsion systems of the future“.
The BSB is involved in a variety of alternative ship propulsion projects. Siebler told Maritime Journal it is involved with the Konstanz University of Applied Sciences (HTWG) and others in an extensive study into the use of hydrogen in inland shipping. The BSB is also involved in government-level discussions about the potential of fuel cell technology and is a partner of the Green Meth network, which is exploring the uses of methanol as a renewable energy source in inland shipping.