The world’s largest hybrid ship is expected to carry passengers between Britain and France

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Artist’s impression of Saint-Malo at sea. According to Brittany Ferries, the battery will have a capacity of 11.5 megawatt hours.

Brittany Ferries

A ship that will carry passengers between the UK and France in the next few 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 company added, was “about double what is typically used for hybrid propulsion in marine vessels.”

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

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

Brittany Ferries said a total of three hybrid vessels were being built by Stena RoRo using hybrid technology from Finnish company Wärtsilä.

“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 inclement weather,” said Hakan Agnevall, CEO of Wartsila.

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Maritime transport is no different from other types of mobility in that it has a considerable environmental footprint.

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

Citing an 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 international shipping was responsible for around 2% of the planet’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2020.

As concerns about sustainability grow and major economies and businesses around the world seek to reduce emissions and achieve net zero emissions goals, the sector will need to find new ways to reduce the environmental footprint of its operations.

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

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

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