Danish DFDS electrifies cross-channel transport

Danish shipping and logistics company DFDS, one of Northern Europe’s largest shipping companies, is to deploy a fleet of battery electric vessels on the English Channel. The company reports this in a press release, after meeting with UK Minister for Investment and Regulatory Reform, Lord Dominic Johnson.

DFDS’s long-term goal is to have up to six battery-powered vessels operating on its routes on the Channel, with the first two in service by 2030.

Because of the relatively short distance between the UK and the European continent, there are 19 nautical miles, or 33 km, between Dover and Calais, the routes on the channel are optimal for electric ferry transport. The English Channel is also one of the busiest shipping corridors in the world and accounts for 33% of the trade between the EU and the UK.

DFDS aims to deploy two battery-powered vessels in the Eastern Channel by 2030. In time, the shipping company plans to invest in six electric vessels on the channel – two methanol, two ammoniac, and two electric, which would be the world’s largest electric ferries. The investment involves about 7,4 billion Danish kroner or 979 million euros.

Calais and Dover involved

The UK government has a Clean Maritime Plan. With that plan, it wants to achieve zero emissions by 2050, including the green shipping transition. However, the transition of maritime transport on the English Channel depends not only on ships at sea.

To complete the fleet’s electrification, a sufficient power supply on land and infrastructure to accommodate charging facilities in ports are equally important.

Exactly in which ports investments will be made, and what kind of investments would be involved, is not clear. But last month, DFDS signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on decarbonizing maritime traffic on the Dover Strait with the Port of Dover, Port Boulogne Calais, and Dunkerque-Port.

According to Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS, the transition will not be easy. “It will require significant investments in innovation, technology and infrastructure, and cooperation and partnerships between the public and private sectors. But I am confident that we will succeed.”

The Ghent terminal of DFDS /DFDS

Port of Ghent

DFDS has 12 routes connecting the UK to France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark, and employs 3,300 people in five ports, several logistics offices in the UK, and onboard three UK-flagged vessels.

It runs six ships on its routes between Dover and France – three on the Dover to Calais service, and three on the Dover to Dunkirk service – with approximately 17,000 crossings made on the routes every year. DFDS transport vessels also sail almost daily from the Port of Ghent to and from Gothenburg in Sweden.

The shipping industry currently accounts for about 2,5% of the world’s total carbon emissions. The International Maritime Organization estimates that all new ships built in 2025 will be 30% more energy efficient than those made ten years prior.


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