Hybrid vehicles are now common place on our roads, but not until recently have we seen development of the technology within the ferry industry.
Hybrid cars typically use a combination of an internal combustion engine and electric motor. The major benefit being that fuel consumption is less and emissions are reduced. Both great for our environment.
Latest newbuild ferries are now starting to take advantage of the technology, which will also provide great environmental benefits and fuel efficiency.
Although still using the hybrid combination of traditional diesel and electric lithium-ion battery power, the new engines (which have now been delivered to Calmac for their new ro-ro ferry, the MV Catriona) will also use an environmentally friendly dual-fuel of LPG and marine diesel. A much cleaner product when compared to the traditional heavy, crude fuels.
The MV Catriona is not the only ferry in operation to use hybrid technologies. Other vessels are currently using photovoltaic - wind turbine power and hydrogen fuel cells. Scandlines currently operates an on-board hybrid propulsion system on it's Puttgarden - Rodby route, which stores excess energy produced in batteries. This reduces CO2 emissions by up to 15 percent and can propel the 8,800 tonne shop for approximately 30 minutes with diesel fuel.
Wightlink, who operate between the UK Mainland and the Isle of Wight have recently placed an order with Wärtsilä to utilise their new hybrid battery technology in their new ferry. The hybrid battery will provide improved efficiency, reduced exhaust emissions and lower vessel noise.
UPDATE The new Wightlink hybrid ferry is expected Spring 2018.
Ferry engine technology development is ongoing. Diesel & electric propulsion will soon be a thing of the past with today's hybrid diesel, battery & electric engines also making way for the new hydrogen & battery hybrids and pure battery powered vessels. With this comes further energy reduction and improved hull optimisation for incredibly efficient ferries.