A dedicated team effort for sustainable operation

Justin Merrigan asks Carsten Nørland how Scandlines is progressing on the path to normality and delivering improved environmental performance even with the challenging marketplace

A dedicated team effort for sustainable operation
Scandlines’ hybrid ferry Berlin was equipped with a Norsepower rotor sail in May 2022

Now that I am once again travelling throughout the ferry world, I can only salute all those operators fighting the good fight for a return to normality. One such company is Scandlines, which transported 7.2 million passengers, 1.7 million cars and around 700,000 freight units between Germany and Denmark on the Puttgarden-Rødby and Rostock-Gedser routes in 2019. 

In 2020, the pandemic forced authorities to close borders between Germany and Denmark and implement temporary restrictions for travellers wanting to enter the countries. Overnight, Scandlines’ business was severely impacted by the extreme market conditions. But now that more people are vaccinated and travel restrictions are being lifted, how is passenger demand changing?  

“We navigated through the ramifications of Covid-19 thanks to a dedicated team effort and improved performance in a challenging market,” says Carsten Nørland, CEO of Scandlines. “To protect our employees and other stakeholders, we swiftly established teams focused on assessing risks, preparing contingency plans and ensuring compliance with recommendations and regulatory demands through training sessions and other proactive initiatives. We expect to continue on the path to normality despite a continued negative impact of Covid-19 repercussions on traffic volumes.” 

Despite recent challenges, Scandlines continues to invest to improve sustainability across its business, something it has been focused on for several years. Between 2013 and 2016, it implemented a new hybrid propulsion system on all passenger ferries, which marked a quantum leap in green ferry operations.  

“Scandlines not only operates the world’s largest fleet of hybrid ferries, but the system is also being copied worldwide and has been a huge success,” says Nørland. “Now we are ready to take the next big step and install the first zero direct emission ferry in 2024. The ferry will be emission-free with a crossing time of 70 minutes, and it will also be able to operate as a hybrid ferry with a crossing time of 45 minutes to serve as backup for the current passenger ferries. The ferry will also be prepared for methanol engines.” 

Scandlines has also achieved success with its investments in the Norsepower rotor sail. Following the successful installation of the rotor sail on hybrid ferry Copenhagen in 2020 and backed by a year of demonstrated results, Scandlines fitted the same rotor sail onboard sister ship Berlin in May 2022.  

“With the rotor sail, Scandlines has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from the hybrid ferry by an average of four per cent – and on good days with optimal wind conditions by as much as 20 per cent,” says Nørland.  

Meanwhile, Prins Richard was fitted with new thrusters and repainted with silicone antifouling paint to improve energy efficiency and further reduce emissions in 2021. This year, the same work will be carried out on Prinsesse Benedikte, the last of the four double-ended ferries on the Puttgarden-Rødby route to undergo upgrades. In total, Scandlines has invested more than €13 million ($13.2 million) to equip the four vessels with 16 new thrusters (four each) and expects to achieve a 15 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. 

“We will continue to invest in green initiatives and strengthen our competitiveness by developing our business to cater to the needs of all customers,” says Nørland. “We have therefore set out to realise our zero-emission vision by 2040, and we aim to reach Scope 1 and 2 zero direct emission operations on the Puttgarden-Rødby route by 2030 as an important first step on this journey.” 

Nørland predicts that Scandlines’ investments in sustainability will drive the long-term future of Scandlines. “The combination of our unparalleled reliability, a unique green profile and bespoke freight and retail offerings forms a solid competitive foundation for our business ahead of the planned opening of the Fehmarn Belt fixed connection in the mid-2030s.” 

This article was first published in the 2022 Autumn/Winter issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.    

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Justin Merrigan
By Justin Merrigan
20 September 2022

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