An artist’s impression of Saint Malo at sea. According to Brittany Ferries, the battery capacity will be 11.5 megawatt-hours.

Brittany phrases

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

The Saint-Malo ship will have a battery capacity of 11.5 megawatt-hours, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. This was “twice as much as is typically used for hybrid propulsion in offshore vessels,” the company added.

Brittany Ferris said the ship is due for delivery in 2024. Another hybrid will join her fleet soon after, traveling between Portsmouth and Caen.

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

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

“The extensive battery size will allow the ships to operate at full capacity, using both the propellers and all thrusters for zero-emissions maneuvering in and out of ports, even in bad weather,” said Hakan Agneval, CEO of Wärtsilä.

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

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

Citing analysis of data from Eurostat, T&E adds that 2019 saw EU freight consumption “12.2% of all transport fuels”.

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

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

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

Soren Sko’s comments came a day after his company said it wanted the entire company to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2040, 10 years earlier than its previous goal.