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Ellen, Denmark’s First Electric Ferry, Passes All Tests With Flying Colors




Boats Ellen electric ferry

Published on June 12th, 2020 | by Steve Hanley

June 12th, 2020 by Steve Hanley 

Ellen, Denmark’s first all-electric ferry, entered revenue service in September last year. The electric ferry trial was supported by the Horizon 2020 program funded by the European Union, so of course the backers wanted to know if Ellen met all the program criteria. The results are now in and the answer is a resounding yes. After 10 months in service, the electric ferry has met or exceeded all expectations. In addition, it has proven that electric propulsion costs less than diesel power.

An electric ferry is a lot like an electric car. It costs a little more in the beginning but pays for itself with reduced fuel and maintenance costs over its lifetime. Reduced carbon emissions are a welcome bonus as well.

Ellen electric ferry

Image credit: Ærø EnergyLab

Extraordinary Efficiency

The energy efficiency of the total electrical system is as high as 85%, according to a press release. That is more than double the efficiency of a traditional diesel ferry. The most modern diesel ferries are a bit more energy efficient but can’t come close to Ellen’s numbers.

Ellen serves a route that is 22 nautical miles round trip. For the journey, she uses about 1600 kWh of electricity in total. There is a high power charging station located at the terminal in Søby that can recharge the ferry’s battery with up to 4 MW of power — more than enough for Ellen to maintain her sailing schedule.

The Least Expensive Solution

electric ferry ROI

Image credit: Ærø EnergyLab

“Perhaps most important of all for the dissemination of e-technology, pure electricity is simply the cheapest solution now,” says the operator of Ellen.

“Investment costs are still somewhat higher for an electric ferry, but the savings in operation offsets investment costs after 4-8 years, depending on the conditions, technical and regulatory, that apply to the route.

“As the lifespan of a ferry is typically around 30 years, an operator can therefore look forward to significant savings after a few years of operation. Contributing to the startling figures are the declining prices of e-technology, not least the battery prices, which have been declining rapidly in recent years, while the energy density of the batteries has increased steadily.”

Passenger Satisfaction Is High

Just as people in an electric car appreciate the quietness of their journeys, passengers who have traveled aboard Ellen say they are very pleased with their experience. They appreciate the quiet sailing and the absence of diesel exhaust fumes on deck. 45% reported they are extremely satisfied, while 41% said they are very satisfied. No passengers reported any anxiety about being out on the Baltic on a vessel powered solely by electricity.

Carbon Emissions Are Reduced

Assuming all the electricity used to keep Ellen’s batteries charged comes from renewable sources, its operation keeps 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year. The Danish electrical grid uses a lot of green energy, but it also uses electricity from other sources. Based on the norm for the local energy grid, Ellen still manages to eliminate 2,100 tons of carbon emissions each year. There are links to the entire Horizon 2020 report contained in the press release.

Of course, in the cockamamie economic system prevalent in the world today, there is no economic value placed on carbon that never gets pumped into the atmosphere. Leave it to humans to figure out a way to totally ignore the economic impact of something that is slowly but surely killing us all. Homo sapiens? I don’t think so.

Hat Tip: Jesper Berggreen

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Tags: Ærø EnergyLab, Denmark, electric ferry, Ellen Electric Ferry, Horizon 2020 program

About the Author

Steve Hanley Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.



Volvo Penta Begins Field Trials Of Battery-Electric Fire Truck




July 2nd, 2020 by Steve Hanley 

While we at CleanTechnica tend to concentrate on electric cars, the EV revolution also involves all sorts of specialty vehicles like fork lifts, ferries, and police vehicles. The total numbers may be small compared to passenger car sales but the benefits to those smaller communities are just as valuable.

Volvo Penta fire truck

Image credit: Volvo Penta

In Norway, Gauldal Fire and Rescue in the city of Trøndelag has begun trials of a battery-electric emergency vehicle based on a Chinese-made Maxus EV 80 electric van. The specialized vehicle is ideal for rescue mission inside the long tunnels that permeate the Norwegian landscape — an environment that does not favor vehicles that suck up precious air supplies to power internal combustion engines.

Volvo Penta just announced it has been working with Rosenbauer, a European manufacturer of fire trucks, on the development of an electric drivetrain for those vehicles. Rosenbauer is far along in its plans to introduce a concept vehicle it calls “Revolutionary Technology” which will soon begin real-world customer testing with fire departments in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Dubai, according to a Volvo Penta press release.

Aside from the usual advantages of an electric vehicle such as reduced expenses for fuel and maintenance and quiet operation, the new fire truck accelerates to speed faster so it can get to fires more quickly. With its independent hydro-pneumatic suspension, it is also more maneuverable and stable than conventional fire trucks, making it suitable for navigating congested city streets.

“After many years of successful collaboration with Rosenbauer, we’re proud to be pioneering electric drivelines and partnering with them on this revolutionary project,” says Paul Jansson, chief project manager at Volvo Penta. “Our close partnership and deep understanding of our customers’ needs guided us in the development of the electric driveline for the new fire truck. Starting customer testing really brings home what the teams have managed to achieve together. This is our first industrial OEM partnership in the area of electromobility and it’s a big step towards creating a new product platform of the future.”

In addition to the battery pack, the new fire truck from Rosenbauer has an electric motor for each axle. There is also an onboard diesel generator to provide auxiliary power at the site of a fire if required.

“The teams at Volvo Penta and Rosenbauer have been working together closely to design a tailored solution that enables the electric fire truck to do its job in a more safe, effective and sustainable way than a conventional vehicle,” says Dieter Siegel, CEO at Rosenbauer International. “Together, we have created the most revolutionary and progressive vehicle in the fire service industry. We have been collaborating with Volvo Penta for many years, they are the experts in this field and they truly understand our needs.”

Volvo Penta is part of the Volvo Group, which allows it to leverage proven technologies from Volvo Trucks and Volvo Buses and adapted them to meet the performance requirements of a fire service application. “We see ourselves as partners, not suppliers to our OEM customers, so collaborating with Rosenbauer in this way is not unusual for us,” says Björn Ingemanson, president of Volvo Penta. “We want to become the world leader in sustainable power solutions and help our customers to future-proof their businesses by meeting the increased demands for cleaner, quieter and more efficient power solutions. This project demonstrates an important step in this journey.” It’s also a small but important step toward an emissions free transportation sector.

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Tags: electric fire truck, Rosenbauer International, volvo, Volvo Penta

About the Author

Steve Hanley Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


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Plot Brewing To Blanket US In Solar Panels + Pollinator-Friendly Plants




Agriculture solar panels pollinators agrivoltaic

Published on July 2nd, 2020 | by Tina Casey

July 2nd, 2020 by Tina Casey 

It started as a trickle and now the floodgates are open. Solar arrays that once sat on barren ground are now festooned with plants that attract bees, birds, and butterflies. Even the US Energy Department is getting into the act. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four newly minted solar power plants that have built-in benefits for pollinators, too.

solar panels pollinators agrivoltaic

The field of agrivoltaics is blowing up with four significant new projects that combine solar panels and pollinator-friendly plants (photo courtesy of Green Lantern via Global Newswire).

1. Beauty Co. Aims For Carbon-Positivity With Solar Panels

The natural hair care company Aveda already keeps beehives on its Blaine campus in Minnesota, and a new 3.6 acre, 900 kilowatt array of solar panels will enable it to add more hives because it is planted with pollinator-friendly plants, not gravel or ground cover. If that sounds like having your solar cake and eating it, too, it is.

The new array is also part of the company’s plans for generating more energy than it consumes.

Aveda was one of the first leading US manufacturers to dip into wind power, and the new foray into the solar + pollinator field puts it smack in the middle of a statewide, accelerating trend.

Here’s another way to look at the big picture: 900 kilowatts of renewable energy is small potatoes, but Aveda’s parent company Estée Lauder is roping in 22 megawatts of wind power for 2020 alone.

2. 120-Year-Old Coal Power Plant Out, Solar + Pollinators In

The city of Logansport, Indiana retired its ancient coal power plant a while back, and now the Logansport Municipal Utility is replacing it with the help of 16 megawatts worth of solar panels.

“Financed by a power purchase agreement (PPA), the solar installation will reduce LMU’s carbon emissions, help to stabilize energy costs for LMU’s customers, and also host a bee and butterfly habitat that will benefit agriculture in the surrounding area,” explains the developer, Inovateus Solar.

Logansport Municipal Utility partnered the organizations Fresh Energy and the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund to create a pollinator-friendly field. The new array will include a solar education element for local schools and a college scholarship for whoever comes up with the best name for the new solar park.

Of interest to tree lovers, the array will be surrounded with a buffer zone of native trees and other plants.

Speaking of having your cake and eating it, too, the PPA deal enables Logansport to get all those green goodies with no money down, thanks to a 30-year contract financed by the firm Alchemy Renewable Energy.

3. More Pollinators + Solar Panels For Green Mountain State

The solar + pollinator field is rapidly maturing, and as more results trickle in the case for new projects grows.

Back in 2017, the solar developer Green Lantern Solar partnered with Bee the Change to build a pollinator-friendly solar array in New Haven, Vermont. The project garnered praise from the Pollinator-Friendly Solar Initiative at the University of Vermont, and now the partners are back at it again with a second solar installation in New Haven.

The two arrays step up the pollinator game for Green Lantern. The company used to rely on clover for ground cover, which is all well and good, but the new arrays support far more pollinator diversity with dozens of different species of plants.

4. GIANT Step For Solar + Pollinators

In terms of industry-wide influence, this next one is probably the most significant. Last month The GIANT Company put the finishing touches on a 7-acre field of solar panels at its corporate headquarters in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

GIANT lives up to its name. Coming up on its 100-year anniversary in 2023, it blankets Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia with hundreds of grocery stores,  pharmacies, fuel stations, and online pickup hubs in addition to grocery delivery services.

The GIANT headquarters already sports a rooftop solar array, but rooftop solar is old hat. The new solar array gives GIANT bragging rights to be the first major grocery retailer in the nation to dip in to the solar panels-plus-pollinators field, and it also supports the connection between food retailers and agricultural health. Ernst Conservation Seeds is the company that will populate the new array with pollinator-friendly plants.

The project also connects GIANT with the organization Planet Bee Foundation.

US Energy Department Hearts Bees, Birds, & Butterflies

If this is beginning to sound like agrivoltaics, run right out and buy yourself a cigar. Agrivoltaics is a new field that aims at designing low-impact solar arrays that are compatible with agriculture, including livestock and food crops in addition to pollinator habitats.

So, what does the Energy Department have to do with agrivoltaics? Plenty! The GIANT Company is participating in a major nationwide, 20-state solar-plus-pollinators project under the agency’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Called InSPIRE for Innovative Site Preparation and Impact Reductions on the Environment, the project connects NREL and Argonne National Laboratory with other stakeholders in academia and local governments as well as environmental and clean energy organizations, with funding from the DOE Solar Technologies Office.

Part of the aim is to conserve land for food production while also enabling farmers to benefit from the cash flow of renewable energy.

There’s plenty of material to chew on, as the field of regenerative agriculture is also discovering that solar panels can do some of the things that regenerative agriculture aims to do for soil and water conservation.

In addition, the InSPIRE project dovetails with two other overlapping initiatives that DOE is heavily promoting, community solar and commercial-scale solar. The agency is aiming at 100% community solar access for every household in the US by 2025 (yes, for real), and the commercial-scale initiative has the aim of tapping into the underdeveloped middle ground of the solar market.

There is also an interesting connection with solar cell efficiency. Evidence is growing, so to speak, that agrivoltaic solar arrays benefit from the cool microclimate under the solar panels, and as everybody knows, solar cells function more efficiently when they are cool — even on Mount Everest, as the case may be. That’s a win-win for livestock farmers, whose stock can benefit from the additional shade.

Hold on to your hats, this whole thing could blow up quickly. It’s not just the small-scale solar developers that are getting into the agrivoltaic act. The global solar developer Lightsource, which is now part of BP, has a whole package dedicated to solar panels with farmer benefits.

Follow me on Twitter.

Photo: Courtesy of Green Lantern via Global Newswire.

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Tags: Alchemy Renewable Energy, Argonne National Laboratory, Aveda, Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, Bee the Change, Ernst Conservation Seeds, Estée Lauder, Fresh Energy, Green Lantern Solar, Inovateus Solar, InSPIRE, Lightsource BP, NREL, Planet Bee Foundation, The GIANT Company, University of Vermont

About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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SEPA Report Helps Utilities Develop Strategies For EV Infrastructure




July 2nd, 2020 by Johnna Crider 

SEPA, also known as the Smart Electric Power Alliance, recently put together a report to help utility companies develop and implement strategies for EV infrastructure deployment. The report noted that there are an estimated 2 million public EV charging ports needed in the US by 2030.

This report is the second in a two-part series from SEPA. The first report was published in 2019 and it introduced the idea of preparing for an EV future for utility companies. It called for utilities to start planning for a variety of EV infrastructure deployment scenarios, addressing internal and external program challenges. The second report expands on how to organize effective utility teams and plan for EV adoption.

Erika Myers, Principal of Transportation Electrification at SEPA, stated, “Utilities often focus on infrastructure deployment because it is commonly cited as one of the largest barriers to EV deployment. With billions of dollars of charging infrastructure being installed in the United States, it is critical that the utility industry share best practices to quickly and efficiently build the necessary charging network.”

The SEPA report is a blend of results from industry surveys, six utility case studies, and stakeholder insights. It offers recommendations and deployment ideas to improve utility EV programs, link third-party EV infrastructure all while putting the focus on the customers’ experience. Some key points from the report include:

  • Utilities need to start planning EV infrastructure now.
  • Utilities need to put together a strong, cross-functional dedicated EV team to lead the company through program launch and implementation. This team needs to have a broad scope, access to funding, and authority to make decisions.
  • Make sure your customers have the best experience at each level–this needs to be the top priority.
  • Look at EV programs and process improvements that could benefit lower-income and underserved customers while supporting transportation and health equity.
  • Make sure that infrastructure id deployed–through utility programs or with the ability to participate in utility load management programs.

Image courtesy Volta

The report also reflected that EV charging is projected to increase U.S. electricity consumption by 11% by 2040 — more if the market grows more than forecasters expect, of course, which is the point of view of many CleanTechnica readers and writers.

“There is no ignoring the importance of EV infrastructure to electric utilities,” the report stated. In April 2020, there were almost $3 billion in transportation electrification investments that have either been approved or are pending approval by state utility commissions nationwide.

A Quick Look at Parts of the SEPA Report

Why Utilities Need A Transportation Electrification Team

The report emphasizes that the most successful utility EV programs are those that have worked cross-functionally to leverage the skills of internal alignment and leadership as a program is built, launched, and implemented. Some things that this team could do include:

  • Guiding and facilitating the internal and external roll out of EV programs and activities.
  • Help with developing programs and activities undertaken by the utility via an EV strategic plan.
  • Emphasize the importance of the utility’s transportation electrification efforts to employees on a regular basis.
  • Secure regulatory approval for new EV program designs and funding.
  • Lead outreach efforts to community-based organizations working with leaders representing low-income and underserved communities.
  • Ensure that governmental and other key stakeholders understand the benefits to residents and businesses.
  • Coordinate outreach initiatives to local media as well as social media marketing and blog posting.

Best Practices For Utility-Led Charging Infrastructure Programs

The report gives some ideas that can help utilities to proactively support the deployment of EV charging infrastructure. These include funding, owning, designing, and installing all electrical and civil infrastructure on both sides of the meter for EV charging.

Setting up infrastructure rebates — in which a utility funds all or part of the make-ready infrastructure with a rebate but the project is managed and owned by a customer. EVSE rebates are an idea as well, in which the utility provides a rebate for chargers consumers buy without the utility owning any of the infrastructures. Full utility ownership is where the utility funds, deploys, owns, operates, and maintains the make-ready infrastructure and chargers. The last idea is for the utility to fully electrify their own fleet whether it’s setting up workplace charging for office employees or switching to all-EV fleets.

To support and manage these ideas and best practices, the report gives a quick outline:

  1. Planning the site prioritization: approval requirements, vendor qualifications, employee training.
  2. Customer Engagement: marketing and outreach as well as transparency regarding sales.
  3. Evaluation: assessment and approval of applications.
  4. Design and Construction — making sure all the permits are in order, setting up the install of charging infrastructure on the customer’s side of the meter.
  5. Customer Follow-Up — ensuring positive customer experience.

Photo by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica

Final notes from the report include developing a holistic EV strategic plan that understand EV market conditions, identifies the utility’s role in the market, and includes some of the recommended must-do activities. There are other should- or could-do activities as well and you can read them here.

Setting up a transportation electrification team that works cross-functionally is something that is emphasized throughout the report as well as incorporating best practices for utility-led EV charging infrastructure projects.

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Tags: SEPA, Smart Electric Power Alliance, Utilities, utilities EV charging

About the Author

Johnna Crider is a Baton Rouge artist, gem, and mineral collector, member of the International Gem Society, and a Tesla shareholder who believes in Elon Musk and Tesla. Elon Musk advised her in 2018 to “Believe in Good.” Tesla is one of many good things to believe in. You can find Johnna on Twitter


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