In search of keys to fossil free waterborne public transports

It would not only reduce emissions in our big cities - it would also reduce noise and congestion. So why is not fossil-free waterborne public transport more developed?
A pre-study conducted within the Swedish Transport Administration's industry program Sustainable shipping, operated by Lighthouse, will hopefully contribute to a change.

In general, the country's public transport is moving at a relatively fast pace towards becoming fossil-free. At least on land. On water it goes slower. The question is why?
”There can be many reasons, but we have chosen to look for the answer in the procurement procedure. What makes you choose fossil-free or not when you buy public transport on water?” Karl Jivén, researcher at IVL, says.

He leads the project, simply named ”Fossil free public transport on water”. The goal is to contribute to a better knowledge base that can be used both in the procurement of fossil-free public transport and in decisions on vessel investments. In March, the report, which presents obstacles and opportunities, is expected to be ready.

Public transport on water in Sweden mainly concerns Stockholm and Gothenburg. The project, which is a collaboration between IVL and KTH, has also managed to form a focus group with the most significant stakeholders in the metropolitan regions, both on the supplier side (shipping companies) and on the procurement side (county council and region). The Swedish Transport Administration is also included.

”We’ve had a workshop with the focus group.  We presented what we´ve done so far when it comes to gathering information on previous research where the field  is going”, Karl Jivén says.

”We also discussed the focus group's experiences and perspectives on what leads to fossil-free public transport on water and what does not. Is it, for example, based on contracts, finance or technology?

Karl Jivén says that there are many other questions that need answers: Will for example electric power become cheaper in the long run when the technology is developed? Do passengers become more satisfied when it gets quiet on board?

”Many who work with this say that there are no problems technically to make water traffic fossil free. But what about the supply of electricity? Can you get enough power to all existing ferry camps? And where is it possible to build new station locations?”

The process has so far given the researchers a good picture of how things work, but no data has yet been analyzed and it is too early to say anything about the results.

”What we will do now is to dig deeper through two case studies. One is made by KTH and focuses on Copenhagen where it has been decided to buy seven electric ferries for public transport. The second IVL is doing in Gothenburg, where the electric hybrid Elvy will soon strengthen the public transport across the Göta älv. Hopefully we can present the results of the studies at the next meeting with the focus group in October.”


More articles about projects within the industry programme Sustainable Shipping:
We need to focus on the social dimensions
What is the similarity between a weightlifter and a ship?