Spanish shipping company Baleària, a world pioneer in the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel, has just floated the ferry Marie Curie in the Italian shipyards of Cantiere Navale Visentini. The vessel’s twin, the Hypatia de Alejandría, is about to complete its construction and perform the corresponding sea tests.
These are the first ferries propelled by LNG that will sail in the Mediterranean. It is planned that the Hypatia of Alexandria will start operating at the beginning of next year and the Marie Curie a few months later.
In the case of recently floated Marie Curie, practically all of its structure has been completed and work is being done on the clearance of the passenger and crew areas, so that at present 50% of the construction has been exceeded. In addition, both engines and LNG tanks and main equipment are already on board.
On the other hand, the Hypatia of Alexandria is almost finished. Currently the ferry is in a dry dock where the antifouling silicone is being applied to the live work of the hull. It is expected that the ship will carry out navigation tests in the coming weeks.
The investment in the construction of these two smart ship pioneers in the Mediterranean reaches 200 million euros (USD 227m). They are two sustainable vessels of identical characteristics: 186.5 meters in length, maximum speed of 24 knots and capacity for 810 people, 2,180 linear meters of cargo and 150 vehicles. In these new constructions, technology and digitalization are at the service of energy efficiency, since in addition to dual fuel and LNG generators (with a power of 20,600 KW) these vessels have LED lighting, among others.
Pioneers in natural gas
For Baleària, the use of LNG as fuel is a strategic commitment, which responds to criteria of social responsibility and economic profitability, and which has placed it as a pioneer worldwide in the use of liquefied natural gas. In addition to these two vessels, it has recently announced the construction, in the Armon shipyards, of the first fast ferry with LNG engines that will sail in the world. Likewise, this month has begun the remotorización of the first of the six ships of the fleet that will modify their engines to be able to propel themselves by means of natural gas. A project that the European Union has subsidized with about 12 million euros, on a total investment of 72 million, and that has qualified as excellent.
Baleària plans to have, in the next three years, at least half of its fleet of ferries sailing with this clean energy, and reach one hundred percent of the fleet within a period of ten years.
Liquefied natural gas is one of the fossil fuels most respectful of the environment. Its use implies the reduction of CO2 emissions by 30%, NOx by 35% and the total elimination of sulfur and particles, which has an immediate effect on improving air quality and reducing the greenhouse effect .
It should be noted that the shipping company has been working on projects related to liquefied natural gas since 2012. Thus, in addition to being a founding member of the Spanish Association of Natural Gas for Mobility (GASNAM), created in 2013, it has strategic agreements with Naturgy (with who has an exclusive LNG supply guarantee contract until the year 2030) and with the supplying companies Rolls Royce and Wärtsilä (for the construction of engines). On the other hand, last year launched the first generator of electricity to LNG in a passenger ship, the Abel Matutes , and has since 2015 an LNG training plan for its crew and ship inspectors.