Wellington’s cross-harbour ferry operator hopes to have its electric catamaran carrying passengers across Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington Harbour by Christmas says East by West Ferries’ managing director Jeremy Ward.
Jeremy Ward says the Ika Rere (flying fish) is close to its final sign-off following sea trials which began in August and is on track to become the first commercial electric passenger craft operating in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 19-metre Ika Rere is an improved design of East By West’s two existing diesel catamarans, with a maximum of 135 passengers compared to the two existing ferries that each have a limit of 99 passengers.
The Ika Rere is powered by a pair of 350 kilowatt motors allowing the craft to travel 22.5 knots, compared with the diesel ferries which can travel about 14 knots at full capacity.
Costing $8.5 million, the Ika Rere was roughly twice the price of comparable one powered by diesel. Ward said the extra cost would be offset in six to seven years through lower expenditure on maintenance and fuel. East by West’s ferries use about 250,000 litres of fuel between them each year.
Ika Rere was built by Wellington based Electric Boat Building Company which also developed the shore-based charging infrastructure which Jeremy Ward said was “just as important and just and difficult”.
The catamaran is powered by energy partners Meridian Energy, which generates electricity though completely renewable sources.
East by West Ferries operates daily services between Wellington’s Queens Wharf and Days Bay in Lower Hutt, stopping at Matiu/Somes Island on some services.