Larger and greener: shipping lines expand ferry fleets on Baltic Sea

2021/11/18 at 2:52 PM

Several shipping lines providing ferry services in the Baltic Sea intend to expand their fleet in the coming years. All the new ferries will intensify ro-ro connections between the countries of the region. Moreover, the vessels will have two remarkable features: more capacity compared to the existing fleet and a strong focus on reducing the carbon footprint of the industry.

By the year’s end, Finnlines, the Finland-based shipping line, will put into operation the Finneco ferry. It is the first of three hybrid ships to be launched by the company in the Baltic Sea. The innovative vessel, which is able to power from diesel and batteries, will be used for moving trucks, semi-trailers and containers. Two other vessels of the same type will be introduced in 2022. And Finnlines is not the only shipping line to add its fleet in the near future.

“We continue growing together with our customers by strengthening our position and fleet across the Baltic Sea. Demand for capacity in the region keeps increasing as freight customers continue to expand and travel passengers choose ferry travel as their preferred safe form of transport in the wake of the pandemic,” pointed out Niclas Mårtensson, CEO of Stena Line, the Sweden-based company also focused on the Baltic region. What other shipping lines will expand their ferry fleets and where will they deploy the new vessels?

The launching ceremony of Finneco I ro-ro vessel in China
The launching ceremony of Finneco I ro-ro vessel in China, source: Finnlines

Hybrids from Finnlines

April 2021 has already become remarkable for Finnlines as its first hybrid ferry, Finneco I, was launched at the Nanjing Jinling Shipyard in China. It is powered by a two-stroke diesel engine and lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, the vessel has solar panels. All the solutions make the new ferry eco-friendly. The Finneco I ship will sail on the Biscay – North Sea – Baltic Sea route. Two other ferries of the same type, Finneco II and Finneco III, will be built and put into operation in 2022. Some of these ships will call in Poland, namely at the Port of Gdynia.

Besides the reduction of CO2 emissions, the Finneco ferries will have a greater capacity. Each vessel can transport up to 300 semi-trailers, 150 cars and 500 containers. Moreover, Finnlines will also deploy a larger ship on the Kapellskär – Långnäs – Naantali line between Finland and Sweden starting from January 2022. This route will be served by an ordinary ro-pax ferry, MS Europalink, but with a greater capacity than its predecessor, MS Europalink, had.

Stena Line will add two E-Flexer ferries to its fleet, source: Stena Line

Efficiency by Stena Line

Another shipping line to expand its ferry fleet on the Baltic Sea is Stena Line. In 2022, it plans to add two new vessels of the E-Flexer series: Stena Scandica and Stena Baltica. Each ro-pax ferry will have a capacity for carrying 1,200 passengers, which is 33 per cent more compared to existing ferries, and a freight lane of 3,600 metres, an increase of 25 per cent. Moreover, the E-Flexer ferries will be up to 30 per cent more energy-efficient than existing vessels due to the optimum design of the hulls, propellers, bulbs, and rudders. The new vessels will be built as diesel-powered but there will be an option for battery, LNG or methanol hybrid conversion. Both E-Flexer ships will be deployed on the shipping lines from Latvia (Ventspils, Liepaja) to Sweden (Stockholm) and Germany (Travemünde).

Peter Pan ferry of TT-Line, source: TT-Line

LNG for TT-Line

Three years ago TT-Line, the Germany-based shipping company, ordered two Green Ships, a new series of ferries that can be powered by LNG. This type of fuel is attracting more and more shipping lines as a reliable and cheap alternative to conventional diesel fuel. By using the new vessels, TT-Line plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 60 per cent. The first of the two Green Ships will start to serve TT-Line’s network in 2022, namely connecting the ports of four countries: Sweden (Trelleborg), Germany (Travemünde, Rostock), Poland (Świnoujście) and Lithuania (Klaipeda).

Hollandia Seaways ferry of DFDS, source: DFDS

Ammonia for DFDS

DFDS, the Danish leading ferry operator that owns over 50 ships, also intends to reduce its carbon foothold on the Baltic Sea and other regions where it operates. However, it decided to tackle the issue in another way. In February 2021, it joined forces with other Danish companies and organisations such as Arla, Maersk, Danish Crown and DLG to look for alternative fuel for ferries. The joint initiative, which was called the Power-to-Ammonia project, is dedicated to implementing green ammonia in shipping. “Green ammonia is an ideal replacement for fuel oil used on ferries because it is produced by a 100 per cent renewable and carbon-free process. It can be burnt in a solid oxide fuel cell with only water and nitrogen as a by-product,” DFDS stated. Within the project, the partners will establish a dedicated hub in Esbjerg on the west coast of Denmark to produce, store and distribute ammonia. The facility with a production capacity of around 50,000 tonnes will be put into operation in 2026.

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