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Shipping: P&O has canal ferries built with hybrid drive

Last updated on March 9, 2021

Thanks to the hybrid drive and its construction, the ships should consume significantly less fuel than conventional ones when they start regular operations in 2023.

Canal ferry with hybrid drive: port maneuvers are purely electric. (Image: ABB / P & O)

Crossing the English Channel with less diesel: the British shipping company P&O is building two ferries with hybrid drives that will be used on the route between Dover in England and Calais in France. They should consume significantly less fuel than conventional ferries and thus emit fewer pollutants.

The two ferries are being built by Guangzhou Shipyard International, a shipyard in Guangzhou (Canton) in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. The first is to be delivered in December of next year, the second in April 2022. The two 230-meter-long ships are scheduled to begin regular operations in 2023.

The batteries come from Baden-Württemberg

The diesel-electric drive train comes from the Swiss electrical engineering group ABB. It consists of four propeller nacelles, each with a 7.5 megawatt electric motor. The batteries are supplied by Xalt Energy, a subsidiary of the Freudenberg conglomerate from Weinheim in Baden-Württemberg.

The energy storage consists of 1,200 battery modules that are housed in four rooms. Together they have a capacity of 8,816 megawatt hours. According to Xant Energy , it is “one of the world’s largest marine battery installations .

The ships are supposed to run purely electrically in the port. In addition, the on-board systems should be supplied with energy from the batteries while they are in port. This should reduce fuel consumption by 40 percent compared to a conventional ferry.

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Renewable Energies and Climate Protection: Background – Techniques and Planning – Economy and Ecology – Energiewende (German)

The ship doesn’t have to turn

The construction method will also help to save fuel: the ships will be built using a double-ended construction. So you don’t have to turn around in the ports. This should shorten the crossing by about seven minutes and reduce fuel consumption by a ton. According to ABB, this is a sixth of the need for a crossing.

Despite the tunnel that now connects England with the continent, there are still around 50 daily ferry connections between Calais and Dover alone. The Dover Strait is one of the heaviest shipping lanes in the world. Around 400 ships pass through it every day.