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Wärtsilä and Stena RoRo build world’s largest hybrid vessels

Wärtsilä and Stena RoRo build world’s largest hybrid vessels
One of the world’s largest hybrid ferries is Brittany Ferries’ E-Flexer, which will operate between Portsmouth in the UK and the French ports of St Malo and Caen (photo courtesy Brittany Ferries).

Finland-headed energy and marine technology group Wärtsilä Oyj has announced that will supply its hybrid propulsion system for three new RoPax vessels currently built for Stena RoRo, Europe´s largest ferry company.

Two of the ferries will have a battery capacity of 11.5 MWh, making them the marine industry’s largest hybrid vessels to date.

Stena wants to be a frontrunner in decarbonizing our fleet and, together with our partners, pushing developments towards zero-emission operations, said Per Westling, Managing Director, Stena RoRo.

This battery power is approximately double that typically being used currently for hybrid propulsion. The order was placed in May 2022.

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, Per Westling said.

The ships have been designed and developed by Stena RoRo and Brittany Ferries and they will be long-term chartered to Brittany Ferries for operation between Portsmouth in the UK and the Port of St Malo and Port of Caen in France.

Brittany Ferries is proud to be taking a lead in sustainable shipping, working with our partners to bring cleaner vessels to the regions in which we operate, said Christophe Mathieu, CEO of Brittany Ferries.

LNG-battery hybrid

Wärtsilä had already earlier been contracted to supply a broad range of solutions for the vessels, including the main and auxiliary engines, gearboxes, controllable pitch propellers (CPPs), thrusters, the fuel gas supply system, Nacos navigation, and automation as well as integrated control alarm and monitoring system.

Hybridization is one way of shaping the decarbonization of the marine industry. This order further strengthens Wärtsilä’s leadership in the hybrid segment, commented Håkan Agnevall, President and CEO of Wärtsilä.

The ships will be capable of operating with either liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel or batteries.

The vessels will be equipped with the latest generation Leclanché energy storage system – the Navius MRS-3 – which has both a size and weight advantage versus comparable marine batteries.

The extensive battery size will allow the vessels to operate with full power, using both propellers 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. Wärtsilä’s unique Energy Management System will optimise the total hybrid propulsion system, Håkan Agnevall said.

Important elements of hybrid vessels include the ability to integrate multiple vessel systems and real-time optimization of the onboard energy system.

Wärtsilä combines a wide range of system expertise across a broad range of ship power and propulsion machinery.

According to the company, combining the benefits of the hybrid propulsion system and shore power leads to up to 15 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions saving compared to a conventional diesel-mechanical propulsion system.

The vessels are being built at the China Merchants Jinling (Weihai) Shipyard. Delivery of the ferries is expected to take place in 2024 and 2025.

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 from these cleaner hybrid vessels. Shore-side power capability means further benefits will be realized, as investment by ports in plug-in infrastructure allows, ended Christophe Mathieu.

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