World’s First Hybrid Ship Docks at Plymouth

The world’s first hybrid cargo ship has docked at the Port of Plymouth, setting an example for the future of green shipping around the globe. The Norwegian flagged vessel, the MV Aasfjell, was launched last year from the Royal Bodewes shipyard at Hoogezand in the Netherlands, Plymouth Live reports.

The Aasfjell is a 349ft vessel, which was built for Aasen Shipping, has a hybrid propulsion system, which allows it to run from 339 kWh battery power only while in port. The makers estimate that his will cut fuel consumption by 400 tons per year. The main engine and hull design have also been optimised for maximum fuel efficiency.

A sister ship, the Aasfoss, is currently under construction. Harbourmaster Captain Richard Allan said:

“It is fantastic to welcome the Aasfjell to Plymouth, at almost 120m in length, with a 7.5m draft she is near the top end of the range of vessels we can currently accommodate here, but she gives us a real insight into what our facilities of the future need to offer to remain competitive and help move the port closer to our goal of net-zero.”

He added: “It is also exciting that having just set a new record for largest cargo shipment leaving Plymouth earlier in May, with 8000 tons, less than a month later a new record will be set when the Aasfjell leaves Plymouth with just short of 9000 tons.”

The Port of Plymouth recently unveiled a new shore side charging facility, which will allow vessels to switch off diesel power while they are docked. Until recently, vessels have had to keep onboard engines running to support the ship’s essential functions, such as lighting, heating, and cooling.

This adds thousands of extra tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere each year, and leads to poor air quality in port cities and towns. By introducing shore power infrastructure, ports in the UK will also make themselves more attractive to shipping companies, who can reduce their fuel consumption whilst in dock.

The technology has been developed through a collaboration with the University of Plymouth and the Marine e-Charging Living Lab initiative.

Sarah Fear, Project and Knowledge Exchange Manager at the University of Plymouth and lead of the MeLL project, said: “The Clean Maritime 2050 strategy underlines how crucial it is that the sector moves forward, and includes a number of ambitious net-zero objectives.”

She added: “That includes the increased electrification of commercial vessels, but if there is no infrastructure in place you cannot support the growing number of businesses looking to

employ this technology. This charging network is a game-changer for Plymouth’s forward-thinking marine enterprises [..]”

It is hoped that eventually, marine charging facilities will be installed at 10-mile intervals across the entire coastline of Devon and Cornwall. This is in line with the UK government’s Clean Maritime Plan to drive down emissions in the shipping industry, and reduce port emissions to carbon net zero by 2050.

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