The world’s largest hybrid ship ready to carry passengers between Britain and France

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An artist’s impression of the Saint-Malo by the sea. According to Brittany Ferries, it will have a battery capacity of 11.5 megawatt hours.

Brittany Ferries

A vessel that will carry passengers between the UK and France in the coming years will be the largest hybrid vessel ever built, operator Brittany Ferries said.

On Tuesday, the company said in a statement that the ship in Saint-Malo would have a battery capacity of 11.5 megawatt hours. This, the company added, was “about double what is typically used for hybrid propulsion in marine vessels.”

Brittany Ferries said the ship will be delivered in 2024. A second hybrid will be added to the fleet shortly after, between Portsmouth and Caen.

The idea behind the hybrid ships is that they can run on liquefied natural gas (a fossil fuel), battery power or a combination of both.

Brittany Ferries said a total of three hybrid vessels were built by Stena RoRo using hybrid technology from the Finnish company Wärtsilä.

“The expanded battery capacity allows the ships to operate at full power, using both propellers and all thrusters to maneuver in and out of ports emission-free, even in bad weather,” said Hakan Agnevall, Wartsila’s CEO.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Transport by sea is no different from other forms of mobility in that it has a significant ecological footprint.

According to Transport & Environment, a campaign group headquartered in Brussels, ships are “a major source of oil consumption and emissions in the EU”.

Citing an analysis of Eurostat data, T&E adds that in 2019 EU shipping consumed “12.2% of all transport fuel”.

Elsewhere, the International Energy Agency says international shipping was responsible for about 2% of the planet’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2020.

With sustainability concerns mounting and major economies and companies around the world looking to reduce emissions and meet zero-to-zero targets, the industry will need to find new ways to reduce the carbon footprint of its operations.

The task is enormous. Earlier this year, the CEO of shipping giant Moller-Maersk admitted to CNBC that switching to “green” fuels would come at a cost, but stressed the importance of focusing on the bigger picture rather than short-term pain.

Soren Skou’s comments came a day after his company said it wanted the entire company to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2040, 10 years ahead of its previous target.



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