ForSea Foresees the Future

The Helsingborg – Helsingør route is probably one of the shortest ferry crossings in Europe, connecting Sweden with Denmark. On clear days it feels like you can swim across. Ferries typically need 20 minutes to link the 4km stretch between the two countries. The ships do it in a most efficient way, ever since the introduction of the ferries TYCHO BRAHE in 1991 and AURORA AF HELSINGBORG in 1992.

The high intensity ferry route transfers over 7.1 million passengers and 1.9 million vehicles per year.

The two abovementioned ferries were of an advanced design, with diesel-electric propulsion and an automooring system. When launched they were already heralded as “green ferries”. The engines ran on <0.1% sulphur-free diesel, the hull was painted with bio-friendly antifouling and all waste was discharged ashore.

Also, the terminal on the Swedish side was a masterpiece of design. The “Knutpunkten” – a city terminal with both railway station and ferry station that connects ferries with trains, local buses and the motorway.

Second, the company officially presented the first, fully battery-operated ferries. The project is a masterpiece of technology, since it was applied on two of the existing ferries, AURORA and TYCHO BRAHE.

 © ForSea – Aurora electric ferry 


Mr Röstin said the strategy behind the name change was “to be even more customer focused and customer oriented.” The company now has its own web platform ( , and ), although it is still possible to book tickets for Helsingborg – Helsingør crossings in combination with the Scandlines routes Puttgarden – Rødby and Rostock – Gedser) (vice versa: on the Scandlines website you can still book combi tickets for Helsingborg – Helsingør.

The new brand name also reflects the more futuristic approach. ForSea refers to the verb ‘to foresee’ and to ‘the sea’. “HH Ferries is more like a traditional shipping name with old values. With ForSea we are sailing into the future,” says Johan Röstin proudly.

ForSea’s main competitor is of course the Öresund Bridge, linking Malmö, Sweden, with Copenhagen, Denmark. “The advantage for the customers is time and fuel consumption. Driving down to the bridge means an additional 50km per single trip,” says Johan Röstin and he adds that, “it is difficult to buy a cup of coffee and to relax when you drive on the bridge.”

By virtue of its concreteness the bridge is de facto environmentally friendly. “We needed to invest in an environmentally friendly solution and strive for a zero-emission solution,” the CEO explains.

All Electric

We asked Mr Röstin when the decision was taken to convert the first ship.

“The initial discussions started in 2015, but the formal decision was made in 2016,” says the CEO.

Ferry Shipping News can see how several colleagues in the ferry industry would probably like to learn about the challenges to implement battery power on existing ferries. Mr Röstin plays open cards. “Companies interested in the same technique as we have, are more than welcome to visit us.”

The conversion required installation of a 4,160kWh battery on each vessel, as well as battery racks, energy storage control systems and ABB’s Onboard DC Grid™ power distribution technology.

 © ForSea – Aurora electric ferry 

The batteries now have an expected lifetime of five years. In total there are 640 batteries, each weighing 90kg. This increased the total weight of the vessel by 280 tons. Johan Röstin sees a fast evolution in the development of the technology. “We expect the lifetime and capacity to improve rapidly.” Ferry Shipping News was told from other projects that batteries were put in the ship at the final stage of the construction, in order to have the latest generation of batteries.

Charging takes place every time the ferry berths. On the Danish side charging takes 6 minutes, and on the Swedish side 9 minutes. This is enough for the crossing.

It feels like there is always some kind of financial incentive for that kind of projects and indeed Mr Röstin confirms that the company was granted EUR 12 million from INEA, the European Union’s executive agency for innovation and network. The budget for the total conversion project was some EUR 30 million.

Now two ships are battery-powered. Johan Röstin says they are looking into optimizing the fleet, and adds it is difficult to be concrete at this moment.

During 2019 all remaining vessels will get the new identity.

More technical information can be found on ABB’s website.