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

An artist’s impression of Saint-Malo at sea. According to Brittany Ferries it will have a battery capacity of 11.5 megawatt hours.

Brittany ferries

A ship carrying passengers between the UK and France in the coming years will be the largest hybrid ship ever built, according to operator Brittany Ferries.

In a statement Tuesday, the company said the Saint-Malo vessel would have a battery capacity of 11.5 megawatt hours. This, the firm added, was “approximately double what is typically used for hybrid propulsion in marine vessels.”

Brittany Ferries said the ship will be delivered in 2024. A second hybrid will join its fleet soon after, traveling between Portsmouth and Caen.

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

Brittany Ferries said Stena RoRo was building a total of three hybrid ships using hybrid technology from Finnish firm Wärtsilä.

“The large size of the battery will allow vessels to operate at full power, using both the propellers and all the thrusters to maneuver emission-free in and out of ports, even in bad weather,” said Hakan Agnevall, CEO of Wartsila.

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Maritime transport is not different from other types of mobility in that it has a considerable environmental footprint.

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

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

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

With concerns about sustainability rising and major economies and companies around the world looking to reduce emissions and meet net-zero emissions targets, the sector will need to find new ways to reduce the environmental footprint of its operations.

The task is huge. Earlier this year, the CEO of shipping giant Moller-Maersk admitted on CNBC that switching to “green” fuels would come at a cost, but stressed the importance of focusing on the big picture rather than short-term pain.

Soren Skou’s comments came a day after his company said it wanted the entire business to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of its previous target.

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