Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

1 0 8 The quest for hybrid ferries Ferry operators are moving beyond LNG in their search for new and greener fuels. Justin Merrigan reports While the Covid-19 pandemic has somewhat compressed global ship orders, the ferry sector continues to see steady order activity as shipowners rise to the challenge of decarbonisation. As the rate of fresh orders for hybrid and zero-emission ferries increases, LNG has substantially moved to being an interim fuel. Take Stena RoRo’s latest E-Flexer as an example. Newly arrived in Europe from China’s CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard for Brittany Ferries in February 2022, Salamanca is the first in the E-Flexer series to be delivered with LNG propulsion, but she is also ‘future-proofed’ and ready for conversion to alternative fuels, as and when they become available. This demonstrates that LNG is indeed seen as an interim fuel rather than the absolute solution. When better, lower-carbon options like e-methane or biomethane come on stream, Salamanca will be ready to run on them, according to Brittany Ferries. Santoña, Brittany Ferries’ next E-Flexer vessel, will also be initially powered by LNG when she starts service in 2023, but will also be capable of running on future fuels. Two hybrid LNG-electric vessels, E-Flexer 11 and 12, will also be joining Brittany Ferries in 2024 and 2025. They will add radical new hybrid systems to their LNG engines as that technology matures, allowing them to run nearsilently and entirely emission-free while manoeuvring and in port. Brittany Ferries has designed all four of these new LNG-powered ships to be ‘fuel-agnostic’ so they can switch to these new fuels as they become available at scale. Brittany Ferries is also investing in the onboard technology required to use those future fuels, and it remains committed to these investments despite the significant twin headwinds of Brexit and Covid-19. “It’s actually our history that allows us to look to the future in this way,” says Frederic Pouget, Brittany Ferries’ ports and operations director. FERRY ORDER BOOK Brittany Ferries’ LNG-powered Salamanca has been designed so she can easily be converted to run on greener fuels in future Photo: Brittany Ferries