Electric transportation technology is spreading beyond cars to heavy equipment, airplanes, helicopters, and now, boats. 

The Danish ferry boat Ellen, which made its maiden voyage earlier this month between the Danish islands of Aero and Als, claims to be the world’s largest all-electric ferry. 

While electric technology is still a challenge for long-haul shipping, and cruise companies are just branching out in to hybrids, short-haul, point-to-point ferry runs seem tailor-made for electric power.

Electric ferries have been running in Norway since 2015, but none nearly as large as the 195-foot long Ellen. This ferry can carry up to 30 cars (electric cars, we'd hope) and 200 passengers, and is powered by a 4.3 megawatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack made by conversion company Leclanche.

The company designs specialized marine battery rack systems with specialized fire prevention and extinguishing systems, and uses its own specialty battery-cell design. 

All-electric passenger and car ferry, in Denmark

All-electric passenger and car ferry, in Denmark

Leclanche CEO Anil Srivastava says that the new ferry will displace emissions of 2,000 tons of carbon-dioxide a year, plus 42 tons of nitrogen oxides, 2.5 tons of particulates, and 1.4 tons of sulfur-dioxide. 

It’s among many new ships using hybrid and electric power and designed to meet new pollution standards for approaching and anchoring in European ports. 

Ellen is “the precursor to a new era in the commercial marine sector,” Srivastava said. “This project demonstrates that today we can replace fossil fuel thermal drives with clean energy, and thus contribute to the fight against global warming and pollution for the well-being of our communities.”