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Thailand’s first fleet of electric passenger ferries to hit the water in 2020

09 October 2020

Danfoss Editron is providing Energy Absolute with the electric drivetrain systems that will power the fleet of 27 catamarans, which will operate on and transform the country’s Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

Bangkok is the world’s most visited city, welcoming nearly 23 million international visitors last year. However, the city’s air quality is regularly recorded at unhealthy levels due to a combination of factors, including traffic, construction and factory emissions and the burning of waste and crop residues. The city’s seasonal weather changes, which prevent pollutants such as exhaust fumes from dissipating, further exacerbates the issue. In January of this year, air pollution in the city was recorded at an unhealthy level for at least seven days.

The Government of Thailand is attempting to clean up its air via several methods, including the promotion of alternative energy modes of transport. Energy Absolute is leading the way in this area, with the fleet of fully electric catamarans forming part of an ambitious blueprint which also includes a US$3 billion battery factory and range of electric cars.

Each 24m-long catamaran will be capable of carrying 200 passengers and will contain two EM-PMI375-T800 motors manufactured by Danfoss Editron. The motors provide a continuous power output of between 174-192kW, depending on the temperature they are operating at, and are based on synchronous reluctance assisted permanent magnet technology. They are also liquid-cooled, designed to work in harsh operating environments and offer smaller dimensions, lighter weight and higher efficiencies than current diesel motors.

Energy Absolute is investing US$33 million in the project, including installing fast-charging stations dockside which will be capable of charging the ferries in approximately 15 minutes. The ferries will be able of operating for between two and four hours on each charge, with a range of 49-62 miles.

Two of the ferries are currently undergoing testing. After the first two ferries have completed trials, the remainder of the fleet will be rolled out to operators over the course of a year. As well as operators, hotels and real estate developers have shown serious interest in the fully electric catamarans as luxury living on the Bangkok riverside is becoming increasingly popular.

Commenting on the project, Danfoss Editron’s Business Development Manager for Asia-Pacific David Hunter said: “Bangkok’s waterways have always played a vital role in transporting both people and logistics. This project can pave the way to bringing them back to life in a sustainable manner by linking key transport networks and providing a smooth and comfortable ride to commuters. It will also help to curb the need for further tunnels and roads, with the waterways becoming a more popular mode of transport once again. More of these projects coming to fruition will help the city become less polluted and congested. It is anticipated that introducing this fleet of fully-electric catamarans will remove approximately 8600 tonnes of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere annually.”

“Energy Absolute is a top-tier company that is heavily investing in sustainable infrastructure and transportation. We are excited about the potential of working together further and are already actively looking at other projects we can collaborate on in Thailand, such as electric bus and electric truck haulage,” David added.

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