Brittany Ferries has announced the arrival of Saint-Malo, the world’s largest hybrid ship, for 2024, according to a press release by the firm published this week. The 639-foot vessel will boast a battery with a capacity of 11.5 MWh, approximately double that typically used for hybrid propulsion in marine vessels, and will replace one of the firm’s older models on a route from St. Malo, France, to Portsmouth, England.
Taking the lead in much-needed sustainable shipping
“Brittany Ferries is proud to be taking the lead in sustainable shipping, working with our partners to bring cleaner vessels to the regions in which we operate,” said Christophe Mathieu, the CEO of Brittany Ferries.
“Hybrid technology continues to move our fleet renewal program forward and will follow the introduction of two LNG-powered ships. From day one of operation, ports like St Malo in France and Portsmouth in the UK will benefit. Shore-side power capability means further benefits will be realized, as investment by ports in plug-in infrastructure allows.”
Saint-Malo will integrate multiple systems allowing real-time energy optimization while sailing in order to improve efficiency and make for a smoother ride. The vessel will also be equipped with features that will make it sustainable.
Features such as optimized energy efficiency, hybrid power, and shore-side plug-in have the potential to yield an improvement of up to 15 percent on greenhouse gas emissions compared with diesel propulsion – according to the ship’s engine and battery supplier marine specialist Wärtsilä.
The marine specialist, along with ship manufacturer StenaRoRo, is also engineering a second hybrid ship for Brittany Ferries. The two new hybrids will replace Bretagne and Normandie, respectively two of the longest-running vessels for the company.
Decarbonizing entire fleets
“Stena wants to be a frontrunner in decarbonizing our fleet and, together with our partners, pushing developments towards zero-emission operations,” added Per Westling, MD StenaRoRo. “Hybridisation allows our vessels to be highly flexible as we adapt to future technology developments, including green fuels, fuel cells, bigger batteries, and solar or wind supported propulsion.”
Wärtsilä has also been commissioned to supply gearboxes and propellors for the hybrid ships.
“This order further strengthens Wärtsilä’s leadership in the hybrid segment,” added Hakan Agnevall, President and CEO of Wärtsilä. “The extensive battery size will allow the vessels to operate with full power, using both propellors and all thrusters to maneuver emissions-free in and out of ports, even in bad weather. The built-in shore power solution will charge the batteries while berthed.”
The shipping industry has seen many calls to decarbonize as the massive ships it uses are a big source of carbon emissions. However, the ships’ massive sizes and the long distances they have to travel have proved difficult to engineer sustainable options for them.
Brittany Ferries’ record-breaking achievement will hopefully inspire other shipping businesses to take the step toward more environmentally-conscious engineering and perhaps replace or upgrade much of their existing carbon-intensive fleets.