Transport operators are trying to find new ways to reduce their carbon footprint. While some want to design carbon-neutral planes or electric cars, the maritime sector is taking the lead in order to find solutions in turn. The idea favored by the Breton shipping company Brittany Ferries is to turn to hybrid ships operating either with liquefied natural gas (LNG), or using a battery (thus thanks to electricity) or thanks to to the combination of the two.

    Three hybrid ferries will complete the Brittany Ferries fleet

    It was in 2016 that the chairman of the Supervisory Board of Brittany Ferries, Jean-Marc Roué, announced the renewal of its fleet while carrying out an energy transition. Thus, between 2020 and 2021, the Salamanca became the firm’s first ferry and the first under the French flag to operate using LNG. Her hybrid sister ship, the Santoña, is scheduled for 2023.

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    On May 31, 2022, Brittany Ferries announced in a statement the arrival of an additional hybrid ship called the Saint-Malo. This vessel should join the fleet by the end of 2024 for commercial operation scheduled for 2025. This boat will be the firm’s first to operate between England and France. The two crossings chosen for the occasion will be the connections departing from Saint-Malo and Caen/Ouistreham in order to get to Portsmouth.

    This ferry will have 10 decks and will sail at an average speed of 23 knots (42.5 km/h) thanks to its two engines with a power of 13,740 kW each. The Saint-Malo will be equipped with a battery with a capacity of 11.5 MW/hour, or approximately double those regularly used for the propulsion of current hybrid ships.

    Two agreements with Titan LNG and Wärtsilä for hybrid ferries

    In order to supply the fuel for its future hybrid vessels, Brittany Ferries has just signed a long-term agreement with Titan LNG, an independent supplier of liquefied natural gas. This Dutch firm will supply the shipping company with LNG and biomethane for the fleet’s three hybrid ferries. The supply of LNG is planned at the quay in parallel with the loading operations in the stopover time slots.

    According to the firm, the use of LNG fuel instead of marine gas oil (MGO) will reduce local emissions to a level below current environmental standards, while reducing CO emissions.2 20 to 25%. Thus, the introduction of the hybrid system will ultimately achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of between 10 and 20%.

    Britanny Ferries will use the technology put in place by the Finnish company Wärtsilä. Its CEO, Hakan Agnevall, explains how he believes his hybrid model benefits ferries: “ the large battery size will allow vessels to operate at full power, using both propellers and all thrusters to maneuver emission-free in and out of port, even in bad weather “.

    All of these partnerships should enable the French shipping company to expand its fleet of hybrid ships in the coming years.