Case example:

A Zero-Emission fleet for the Westerschelde Ferry with ZeroFleet Designer

Problem: how to create a future-proof ferry service

In late 2022, we won a tender put out by the Province of Zeeland to re-engineer the Westerschelde Ferry operations. The project's objective was twofold: to transform the operation into a completely emission-free service and to prepare the ferry service for an expected change in passenger numbers. Ideally, the cost should also go down.

Solution: look at the full picture

Our key to unlocking this ferry service transformation was the development and application of ZeroFleet Designer, our in-house tool that provided answers to the essential questions for modern ferry operators:

  • How can my fleet become emission-free?
  • What will be the effect on my operating costs?
  • How can I manage passenger or cargo volumes while keeping my zero-emission vessel charged and loaded between trips?
  • What's the best speed for my fleet's vessels?
  • What kind of propulsion system is the right investment?

The ZeroFleet Designer is designed to analyze various fleet configurations and schedules, and houses a database of existing zero-emission ships, forming the foundation of our sustainable redesign.

Taking a holistic approach, we focused on several crucial factors to ensure the project's success:

  • Predicting passenger flow to meet growing demand
  • Incorporating onshore infrastructure to optimize service efficiency
  • Creating an economic model to ensure profitability
  • Designing a propulsion system to achieve zero emissions
  • Including hydrofoils in our vessel design to increase energy efficiency and passenger comfort

Result: a unique proposal for a zero-emission fleet with higher service level and lower costs

Our approach proved to be effective when the ZE WSF project's steering group from Zeeland suggested that the Dutch Provincial States should consider our suggested fleet and operation plan for future Westerschelde Ferry services!

The impact of our work can be clearly seen when comparing the old fleet with our proposed new fleet:

  • Zero-emission propulsion: The propulsion system of the new fleet can be upgraded to fully electric, ensuring a cleaner and greener operation without compromising performance.
  • Higher energy efficiency: Compared to the current fleet, the energy consumption of the proposed fleet can be reduced by a significant 75%, resulting in substantial environmental benefits.
  • More flexible schedule: Unlike the inflexible schedule of the current fleet, the proposed fleet offers a more adaptable and flexible departure frequency, enabling increased convenience for passengers.
  • Improved ferry service: With the addition of three fast vessels, the new fleet's capacity can be significantly expanded, allowing more passengers to be transported comfortably.
  • Lower investment and operating costs: Due to the factors above, the proposed fleet is predicted to have a remarkable financial advantage, with a substantial reduction of 20% in capital investment and up to two million euros decrease (!) in yearly operating costs.

In collaboration with C-Job Naval Architects, we also conceptualized a high-speed, emission-free hydrofoil ship that would meet al requirements.

In conclusion, the ZeroFleet Designer has proven to be a useful tool for other ferry operators, providing quick, cost-effective analysis, and contributing to cleaner maritime transportation. Its application to the new Westerschelde Ferry service has led to a very positive result for the province and a customer enthusiastic to proceed with the acquisition of the proposed fleet!

For this project, we enjoyed collaborating with Provincie Zeeland, Westerschelde Ferry, C-Job Naval Architects, MuConsult and Panteia


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