Læsø ferry service going green

24. February 2022

The ferry service to the Danish island Læsø will soon be both CO2 neutral and emission free – and most importantly, its entire life cycle will build on principles of sustainability.

A new innovation project will explore the possibility of bunkering with other fuels than diesel; a project that holds great potential for 53 ferry routes in Denmark alone.

“Læsø equals back to nature, eco-friendliness and woollen sweaters. It does not make sense to start a visit here with an hour and a half on a diesel ferry”.

This is how Allan Hjortnæs Pedersen, Ferry Manager on the Læsø ferry, describes the main issue that led to an innovative consortium now exploring the possibility of turning the ferry service between Frederikshavn and Læsø green.

The consortium includes Læsø Municipality, OSK-ShipTech, Emenergi, Advent Technologies, Nordhavn Power Solutions and Hydrogen Valley as well as the knowledge institutions DBI and AAU Energy, and the innovation project is facilitated by the cluster organization Energy Cluster Denmark.

The project has two overall aims. On the one hand, alternative fuels need to be identified to enable the existing ferry, Margrete Læsø, to send its diesel engine on early retirement, and on the other hand the partners need to determine whether the everyday ferry service can run smoothly on green fuels.

More rebuilding – less new building

Today, the Læsø ferry service is handled by two diesel ferries of a certain age. There are 4-8 daily trips between Frederikshavn and Vesterø Harbour on Læsø, and these consume around 1,600 cubic metres of diesel fuel annually, emitting appx. 5,000 tons of CO2.

“Læsø wants to be greener. There are several obstacles to direct electrification, but we believe that we can find alternatives. That is what we will explore in the project,” Allan Hjortnæs Pedersen says.

The simplest answer is to buy a new ferry that runs on green energy. A new ferry is expected to be in place in 2024-2025.

However: This answer only solves half the challenge, according to Chief Commercial Officer Anders Ørgård, OSK-ShipTech:

“It does not make any sense to focus only on the CO2 emissions of a newly built ship and not on the emissions from the building process itself,” he says.

“30 per cent of the CO2 emissions of the entire life cycle of a ship are generated by the building process. We need to look at the CO2 footprint throughout the entire life cycle of the ship, and we are convinced that more rebuilding and less new shipbuilding holds a larger potential for CO2 savings,” he says.

Methanol is ready

Even though Læsø Municipality is in the process of purchasing new ferry capacity for the service between Læsø and Frederikshavn, Margrete Læsø still has many good years in her. The ferry will continue to be a crucial part of the ferry capacity of Læsø, and as such an obvious next step is to consider the possibility of making the existing ferry greener.

One renovation solution may be to make the shift to a combination of methanol engines and fuel cells.

“We have a product that enables the shift from diesel to methanol, and which runs solely on compression, as is known from diesel engines today,” says Jørk Rudolph, Sales Director of Nordhavn Power Solutions, who is one of the project partners.

“This solution has zero emissions of CO2, particles and SOx, and the NOx emissions comply with current limits – without the need for additives. There is even a higher coefficient of utilization than with diesel. So the primary question is whether the solution will work in the everyday service between Frederikshavn and Læsø,” Jørk Rudolph says.

Massive interest

If the solution works, many harbours should prick their ears.

“My guess is that 3 out of 4 local Danish ferries have a similar diesel engine on board, so the solution holds great potential,” Jørk Rudolph says.

Project Manager Hans Jørgen Brodersen, Energy Cluster Denmark, agrees:

“There is an intense focus on the transformation of heavy traffic as a crucial aspect of the green transition. If we can show that ferry service can function without emitting CO2, it will attract massive interest from far and wide, both in Denmark and globally. In Europe alone, there are 1,000 ferry routes with short crossings,” he says.

“It does not make any sense to focus only on the CO2 emissions of a newly built ship and not on the emissions from the building process itself.”

– Chief Commercial Officer Anders Ørgård, OSK-ShipTech


In addition to providing a proof of concept for the solution, the innovation project will also involve defining installation requirements for the new technology, including refuelling, handling and safety regarding methanol on passenger ferries.

The project aims to provide a solution that can be implemented in the market within 5 years.

The project is funded by the EU Regional Development Fund ”Innovation collaboration in the Offshore Cluster”.


Læsø Municipality / Læsø Ferry (public project owner)

OSK-ShipTech (SME)

Emenergi (SME)

Advent Technologies (SME)

Nordhavn (SME)

Hydrogen Valley (SME)

DBI (knowledge institution)

AAU Energy (knowledge institution)

Energy Cluster Denmark (facilitator and administrator)