Marine Electrification Becomes Reality

For us coastal dwellers, these are exciting times! That is, if you can ignore all the noise blurring the picture, noise from COVID, the elections, etc. So, ignore all that for a few minutes and revel in this handful of electrifying news bites! These stories of marine electrification really hit home when we consider the years-long planning process that has been occurring at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area.

One component of that planning is the ‘chase the glacier’ concept. The Forest Service, the governing body that manages the recreation area and its facilities, bends over backwards to make every square inch of land under its management accessible to everyone. As our summer temperatures continue to climb and the Mendenhall glacier continues to melt, planning calls for boats on Mendenhall Lake, boats that will traverse the nearly always quiet and peaceful waters to allow the 600,000+ summer glacier visitors a chance to get up close and personal with the ice.

The Forest Service planning does not appear to embrace many of the trends that are now sweeping the globe and it appears that the leaning is towards old-fashioned and costly, noisy, smokey, and toxic, diesel-powered vessels. Why? Please…do tell me! I certainly can’t explain such thinking, thinking that the following articles paint as outdated, old-school, and just plain bury-your-head-in-the-sand wrong. Especially in one of Alaska’s premier and most visited ‘climate change classrooms.’

If you believe that any future boats on Mendenhall Lake should be quiet and clean and modern electric vessels, contact James King, AK Region Recreation Manager: 586-8877 or

Thailand Gets a Fleet of Electric Ferries to Help Clean Up Bangkok

With an electric powertrain developed by the electric marine experts at Danfoss Editron, some 27 zero-emission passenger ferries will soon replace a hodgepodge of aging diesels in Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River as part of an exploratory bid to improve air quality and clean up the water supply in the Thai capitol.

Source: Thailand Gets a Fleet of Electric Ferries to Help Clean Up Bangkok

Electric Ferries Are Sailing Under the Radar

Turns out that electric ferries aren’t just good for the environment, they’re also a boon to the economy. For example, Washington State is turning to electric ferries to hedge against the price of oil.

The argument for doing so is strengthened by the state’s cost projections. If the most aggressive system were implemented and oil prices stayed low for decades, Washington would net more than $2 million. If diesel gets expensive? It’d be $58 million.

That’s according to an article by the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition which talks about how Washington State took inspiration from one of the most expensive countries in the world – Norway – home of the first electric ferry.


Lastly, more electric news from New York State…

Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls has launched North America’s first all-electric, zero-emissions tour boats

“Earlier this month, the Maid of the Mist launched two electric catamarans into the gorge, the first of their kind in North America. The hulking double-deckers run on dual banks of lithium-ion batteries. All the power used to charge the batteries is supplied by the nearby Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, one of the most productive hydroelectric facilities in the United States, making the boats a zero-emission operation.

Maid of the Mist is at the forefront of what observers say is an emerging trend in maritime operations. On the other side of the country, Washington is in the process of electrifying its ferry fleet — the largest in the United States — with the goal of cutting diesel fuel consumption in half by 2040.”