The world’s largest hybrid ship will carry passengers between the UK and France

Artist’s impression of Saint-Malo at sea. They will have an 11.5 megawatt-hour battery, according to Brittany Ferries.

Brittany Ferris

The ship, which will carry passengers between the UK and France over the next few years, will be the largest hybrid ship ever built, according to operator Brittany Ferries.

In a statement on Tuesday, the company said the Saint-Malo vessel will have an 11.5-megawatt-hour battery pack. This, the firm added, is “roughly double what is typically used for marine hybrid propulsion.”

Brittany Ferries said the ship should be delivered in 2024. Shortly thereafter, a second hybrid will join the fleet, sailing between Portsmouth and Caen.

The idea behind hybrid ships is that they can run on liquefied natural gas (fossil fuel), batteries, or a combination of the two.

Brittany Ferries said Stena RoRo is building a total of three hybrid ships using Finnish firm Wärtsilä’s hybrid technology.

“The large battery size will allow ships to operate at full power, using both propellers and all thrusters to maneuver without emissions in and out of ports even in bad weather,” said Hakan Agnevall, CEO of Wartsila.

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Maritime transport is no different from other modes of transport in that it has a significant impact on the environment.

According to the Brussels-based organization Transport & Environment, ships represent a “significant source of oil consumption and emissions in the EU”.

Citing an analysis of Eurostat data, T&E adds that in 2019 shipping in the EU consumed “12.2% of all transport fuel”.

Elsewhere, the International Energy Agency reports that international shipping accounted for about 2% of the planet’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2020.

With growing sustainability concerns and the drive of major economies and businesses around the world to reduce emissions and reach net zero, the sector will need to find new ways to reduce the environmental impact of its activities.

The task is huge. Earlier this year, the CEO of shipping giant Moller-Maersk told CNBC that going green would be expensive, but stressed the importance of focusing on the bigger picture rather than short-term issues.

Soren Skou’s comments came a day after his company said it wanted all businesses to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of its previous goal.

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