Shipping Company Orders Hybrid RoRo Vessels

Two new hybrid ships that are powered by two different fuel systems have been ordered by Stena Line on behalf of Stena RoRo. Marine Insight reports that the ships can be powered by conventional fuel or methanol. The vessels have been designed for Stena Line’s route between Belfast and Heysham on the Irish Sea. 

Per Westling, managing director of Stena RoRo said: “These vessels are a further development of our previous cargo ship concepts where focus on sustainability and future-proofing with multi-fuel combustion engines are prioritised.”

The way ships are powered has been the subject of much debate and innovation in recent years, as the shipping industry works towards achieving carbon neutral targets. 

Fossil fuels have been the main way larger vessels have been powered over the past century, from coal to diesel oil. However, as the need to conserve the earth’s resources and reduce pollution becomes more urgent, alternative methods of propulsion are becoming more common.

The shipping industry is responsible for at least 2.5% of the world’s carbon emissions, amounting to about 940 million tonnes of Co2 per year. The International Maritime Organization has pledged to reduce this amount by  50% by the year 2050. 

Furthermore, shipping is thought to be responsible for over 15% of carbon and nitrous pollution, and 10% of other noxious gases such as sulphur. According to Marine Insight, a diesel fuelled vessel emits as many pollutants over its lifetime as 50 million cars. 

Hybrid power is seen as one of the most effective solutions for reducing carbon emissions for the medium term. This means that the vessel can be powered by more than one means, such as hydrogen fuel and diesel, or rechargeable electric battery power. The concept is much the same as a hybrid electric car that can run on petrol or battery power. 

One of the main advantages of hybrid battery powered vessels is that they can be switched to the battery system for low power operations, such as when they are in dock and power is needed to keep the generator running. At other times, such as in challenging weather conditions at sea, the main engine can be backed up by another fuel source. 

Battery powered ships can be recharged by two means: from plug-in recharging units at a dockside, or through recharging from the generators or alternators using power from the ship’s engines. The recharging usually takes place when the engine is running at full capacity, and is most commonly used for long-distance ocean going vessels. 

Hybrid power systems can be retrofitted to existing vessels when necessary. A hybrid powered ship uses up to 20% less fuel than a conventional ship, as well as having a lower carbon footprint. 

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